Here's how Florida Hospital uses music to help cancer patients

Music helps with expression, pain management

ORLANDO, Fla. – At Florida Hospital, music therapy is being used to help in the daily struggles for those patients who are battling cancer. 

"We're using research that shows how actively engaging in music and, specifically, cancer patients and their caregivers engaging in music making, can improve their mood and decrease their stress and that ultimately impacts their immunity markers -- their ability to fight their disease," said Erica Kopp, a music therapist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute in Orlando.

Rich Abante Moats, program manager for Integrative and Creative Arts Therapies program, explained how it works.

"We use music to help them express what they're feeling. In the hospital, we can use music and we're specifically trained in neurologic music therapy, to use music for walking or for moving for pain management, for example,"  Moats said.

She said this music therapy can help decrease the amount of pain a patient feels.

"Pain is a sensory experience. We use that aspect of music to flood the brain with this sensory experience along with the pain, along with all the different things happening in the environment so the pain perception can be decreased," Moats said.

She said the the program is made possible though the selfless work of Florida Hospital Executive Board member and philanthropist Ed Gilbert and his wife.

"Anyone that has been fortunate in their lives and fortunate in their careers, to think about how can you make a difference in someone else's life that wasn't as fortunate as you were. And I think we as human beings have an obligation to help others," Gilbert said. 

Patients can listen to music played by the therapists or they can play it themselves through he survivorship choir and the therapeutic drumming group.

"Every song is written because of a meaning that means something to the person that wrote it. So here you are, in the deepest throws of your life today, and it may be that you're writing a song about yourself, what you're feeling," Gilbert said.

Gilbert said he and his wife raised funds to build the program. Gilbert said they wanted to make life a little easier for those who need it.

"Can you imagine what that would mean from a therapeutic perspective, to help you get through the pain and suffering that you're feeling day to day as you're going through chemotherapy and the mental anguish you're going through, whether you're gonna know are you gonna make it or not. Maybe it's a song, a song that starts with the beat of your heart, of what you're feeling at that moment and the therapists who are so talented and so well trained can just start from that little beat of your heart and help you take your feelings and what you're thinking about, and make a song that is only indigenous to you," Gilbert said.

People interested in donating to support the program can at donation.floridahospital.com.

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