The Use of Music Therapy in the NICU

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The use of music therapy in the NICU serves several purposes. Auditory stimulation is any sound that triggers the auditory system (Tagg, 2002). According to Gilad and Arnon (2010), music therapy shortens the stays at hospitals and increases the tolerance for auditory stimulation. Loewy, Stewart, Dassler, Telsey, and Homel (2013) implies that premature infants who participated in music therapy showed modifications in heart rate over time. Keith, Russell, and Weaver (2009) found that when a premature infant was crying, the heart rate decreased in response to auditory stimulation; however, the measure of the heart rate depended on the behavioral state (Katz, 1971). When the premature infants were not crying, the heart rate would increase (Keith et al., 2009). Overall, the findings conclude that premature infants were responsive to auditory stimulation (Katz, 1971; Keith et al., 2009). Research suggests that premature infant responses to auditory stimulation in the NICU have promoted other facilities to use this approach amongst this population Music therapy stimulates positive changes in other physiological indicators. Research indicates that music therapy increases oxygen saturation levels in premature infants (Loewy et al., 2013). However, Johnston, Filion, and Nuyt (2007) reported a decrease in oxygen saturation levels when exposed to a recording of their mother’s voice during painful procedures for premature infants. The researchers concluded that the comforting voice of the mother was not able to influence the premature infants levels of oxygen saturation, although Lowey et al. (2013) were able to increase oxygen saturation with music. Thus, it is suggested that the NICU should offer music therapy to premature infants under developmental care. Findings from several researchers indicate that music therapy helps advance developmental responses amongst premature infants in NICU. According to Standley et al. (2010), acquiring the ability to suck is the most crucial behavior for the survival and development of premature infants. When premature infants demonstrate poor oral feeding abilities, their heart rate increases, oxygen saturation levels decrease, and they lose weight. Ensuring that premature infants are involved in sucking movements during their primary weeks will increase survival rate and good health in the NICU (Yildiz & Arikan, 2011). However, Walworth (2009) believes that involving parents to create an environment in which music is prevalent will impact the development of premature infants as well. Parents who attended music groups with their premature infants demonstrated positive responses to oral feedings when compared to the parents who did not participate.

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