Tom Jacobs: Post-Op Opera: Music Helps Surgery Patients Recover

Pumping pleasant tunes into patients’ headphones hastened the healing process.

Even hard-core music lovers may not feel like reaching for their iPod as they’re being wheeled out of the operating room. But two new studies report rhythm and harmony promote rejuvenation and health in the hours and days immediately after surgery.

The research papers, which describe a pilot study of cardiac surgery patients and an experiment featuring older adults undergoing hip or knee surgery, are both published in the inaugural issue of the journal Music and Medicine. Together, they suggest the much-discussed healing power of music can play a valuable role in the postoperative healing process.

The heart surgery study, which involved 67 patients, was created and chronicled by Dr. Fred Schwartz, an anesthesiologist at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Headphones were installed in five of the 10 beds in an Intensive Care Unit, where patients were recovering from coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Those who were randomly selected for one of the music-system-equipped beds had headphones put on them upon their arrival from the operating room. The devices were initially set at…

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