Music Therapy for Hospitalized Infants
The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program” (AMTA website). Some hospitals provide music therapy for patients, often to reduce stress, ease pain or enhance learning.
Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX offers music therapy to hospitalized infants in a program called Wiggly Wednesday. The program involves both the infant and caregiver (or volunteer, if a parent is unavailable). The first few minutes revolve around a “meet-and-greet,” which enables the parent and child to get comfortable and acquainted with the others in the group. The session may include playing of instruments (to help babies explore the concept of sound and effect), movement play (like pushing into a sitting position), mirror play (for body awareness), peek-a-boo, and finally transition to a quiet time. Music Therapist Christine Neugebauer, explains the session has to be paced according to the infant’s needs and developmental level.
The Benefits of Wiggly Wednesday
Neugebauer says programs like Wiggly Wednesday are important for infants because hospitalized babies are often stressed by the unfamiliar environment and faces, change in routine, and prodding and poking associated with testing and monitoring. In fact, infants often start to cry when a stranger walks in room because the young patients associate strangers with an unpleasant experience. The Wiggly Wednesday sessions help soothe the babies.
Research suggests more than 25 percent of hospitalized infants and young children have a known or suspected developmental delay. Hospitalization can further impede developmental milestones, especially when the stay is prolonged or frequent. Neugebauer says hospitalization can also affect an infant’s social development. The Wiggly Wednesday group gatherings foster socialization. The music encourages the babies to move with the beat, stimulating the motor system. The music also enhances the connections between language and speech. For the parent, Wiggly Wednesday provides a break away from the doctors, nurses and hospital routine and a more “normal” time with the child. It also strengthens the parent-child bond.
American Music Therapy Association, http://www.musictherapy.org
For information about developmental milestones for children:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd
March of Dimes®, http://www.marchofdimes.com
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Mathur, A., et al., “Knowledge and Use of Music Therapy Among Pediatric Practitioners in Michigan,” Clinical Pediatrics, March 2008, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 155-159.
Petersen, Mario Cesar, et al., “Prevalence of Developmental and Behavioral Disorders in a Pediatric Hospital,” Pediatrics, March 2009, Vol. 123, No. 3, pp. e490-495.
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