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Healing Harmonies: Music Used to Treat Stroke, Dementia, and Even Cancer

Healing Harmonies: Music Used to Treat Stroke, Dementia, and Even Cancer Read Transcript

(SINGING) I once was lost--

LORIE JOHNSON: James Rodriguez learns

to talk again by singing favorite hymns from his time

in the church choir.

(SINGING) But now I see.

And all God's people said?



LORIE JOHNSON: While a massive stroke

tried to take James's speech, the Music and Medicine Program

at Virginia's Sentara Healthcare helps him get it back.

BOTH: (SINGING) Joy, my king.

We actually use more of our brain

when we sing the same phrase versus when we speak it,

because when we're singing, we have melody, rhythm,

and emotion.

That's how music can reenergize disabled parts of the mind.

We're able to activate more areas of the brain

and reroute, and create new neural networks

so we can get around that damaged area caused

by the stroke.

LORIE JOHNSON: First, patients sing the words.

(SINGING) Hamburger steak.


BOTH: (SINGING) Hamburger steak.

LORIE JOHNSON: Then transition to speaking them.

BOTH: Hamburger--



LORIE JOHNSON: James' wife Sandra

says since starting music therapy,

her husband spontaneously speaks around the house.

At times, it just comes out, you know.

And it would just stop us in our tracks

when he'd gone several years and not

spoken a word and communication was almost non-existent.

LORIE JOHNSON: People with other brain issues

also enjoy the benefits of music therapy.

Just see the difference it makes for 96-year-old Mike Knutson.



I'm going to put your music on, OK?


LORIE JOHNSON: University of Wisconsin researchers

discovered improvements in quality of life indicators,

like mood and memory, when dementia patients like Mike

would regularly listen to music.

We've seen members who don't talk very much start to sing.

LORIE JOHNSON: Mike's family noticed it too.

Music really does something to wake him

up and help him to be more engaged with what's

going on around him.

LORIE JOHNSON: The key here is treating the patients to music

they love.

Since that often varies, each patient

listens to their own unique playlist.

Mike's daughter noticed such a change,

she makes music a part of each visit with her dad.

We feel as though we have been blessed

with this whole new experience with Dad.

We are able to connect in a completely different way,

in a very genuine way.

Listening to music we love triggers the chemical dopamine,

which activates our brain's pleasure center.

(SINGING) It's what you take, it's what you give.

LORIE JOHNSON: In addition to prescribing music

for his cancer patients, San Diego oncologist Steve

Eisenberg goes a step further by serenading them himself.

(SINGING) And another [INAUDIBLE] like mother--

LORIE JOHNSON: And get this, he writes

songs specific to each patient.

(SINGING) Yeah, you, you're a diamond jewel.

You're so cool.

You make me smile.

He spoke with my husband for a good hour on the phone,

learning all sorts of things about me, my tastes in music,

my interests, my hobbies, what's important to me,

what my goals are in life.

And he really, I felt, captured the essence of me in the song.

And it was just beautiful, touching,

I can just never thank him enough.

LORIE JOHNSON: Dr. Eisenberg cites

a growing number of studies proving music's value.

So it's just an unbelievable testament, if you will,

to what's been happening with music

and healing in cancer patients.

And it's what we've always suspected,

but now we're actually seeing scans and brain activity

sort of that is corroborating what we've always

sort of known.

(SINGING) I love you, Lord.

LORIE JOHNSON: So whether you're trying

to get well or just maintain good health,

music can help by strengthening the mind,

lowering blood pressure, and reducing pain and anxiety.

Lorie Johnson, CBN News.

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