Assignment Highlight | Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Music Therapist Journal

220x220highlight04Medical Diagnosis: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Patient: DM, female, 60s
Therapy Setting: Medical facility
Intervention Type: Individual

DM’s diagnosis required precautions: gloves, mask, and gown. Upon entry of the music therapist and interns, DM was sitting on her bed. She was extremely open to music therapy. She reported that she was in pain (eight on a scale of one to ten) and experiencing a great deal of anxiety (ten on a scale of one to ten).

DM was asked to choose songs from the top 20 song title list. She mentioned that she’d like to hear “You Are My Sunshine,” “Amazing Grace,” and “The Rose.” DM then reported that she had to use the bathroom. When she returned, she seemed nervous, requesting the same songs again, as if unsure that the music therapy staff would honor her requests. She offered a chair to one of the interns and asked if they would mind if she sat down in a chair as well.

After the physical comfort issues in the room were settled, “You Are My Sunshine” was played and sung with guitar and QChord, DM shared that she sings the same song to her granddaughter all the time, and asked us for a copy of the song, as she had not known all of the verses. She cried and thanked the music therapy staff.

As each song was played, DM expressed her thanks and explained that she was hoping to be discharged in time for her granddaughter’s birthday and would love to sing these new songs with her. “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Let It Be,” and “You Light Up My Life” were played as well, all followed by a response of tears, self-disclosures, and expressions of gratitude that the music therapy staff were there for her.

DM stated, “I would keep you here forever. You’ve helped me so much. This is better than a pill. Get me a stack of those comment cards, and I’ll write whoever I need to convince that a music therapist should be hired here full time.”

When asked about her pain and anxiety levels after the music therapy intervention, DM responded, “Are you kidding, honey? You don’t even have to ask me that.” She pointed to zero on the pain scale and zero on the anxiety scale. Copies of all of the songs sung in the music therapy session were given to DM so that she would be able to share them with her granddaughter and remember later what she referred to as “the only highlight of (her) hospital stay.”

Insight gained: music therapy can make the hospital environment seem almost nonexistent for patients. It also is important to leave patients with something they can use after the session to continue toward the goals worked on during the music therapy intervention—a tape of the session, copies of music, instructions, or exercises.


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