Music may help treat brain failure patients: Study

Washington, Mar 11 (PTI) Music may decrease delirium, a form of acute brain failure with no effective treatment that especially affects patients on ventilators in the intensive care unit (ICU), according to a study that may lead to new ways of supporting those with the condition.

The study, published in the journal American Journal of Critical Care, noted that critically ill individuals who listened to slow-tempo, relaxing music with 60 to 80 beats per minute had decreased need for sedatives, fewer days of delirium, and were more awake.

According to the researchers, including those from Regenstrief Institute in the US, patients intubated with ventilators in the ICU experiences pain, anxiety and physiologic stress, which are usually treated with drugs that can contribute to delirium.

They said music can enable these patients to receive physical therapy earlier.

'Like kidney or heart failure, individuals can develop brain failure, but there is no treatment equivalent to dialysis or the ventilator for brain failure, a condition which can adversely affect an individual's personality and quality of life for years,' said study co-author Sikandar Khan from Regenstrief Institute.

'Recent studies by our group and others have shown that drugs, including commonly prescribed antipsychotics, do not treat delirium or reduce its severity, so we desperately need a non-pharmacologic treatment,' Khan said.

According to the researchers, music may hold promise to help save patients' brains, and allow them to experience less stress while critically ill.

They said ICU nurses could easily place noise-cancelling headphones and audio players with patients.

In the study, the researchers divided ICU patients on mechanical ventilators into three groups -- those who listened to slow tempo playlists consisting of piano, guitar, Native American flute sounds and classical music, patients whose preferred music was played, and those who listened to an audio book.

Patients who listened to audiobooks were further randomised to hear a reading of 'Treasure Island,' the Harry Potter series, or Dr. Seuss' 'Oh the Places You'll Go!', the scientists noted in a statement.

All three audiobooks, they said, were chosen for readability, broad appeal, quality of narration and high ratings on commercial websites.

According to the study, 80 per cent of the patients rated the music enjoyable, duration appropriate, and indicated that they liked being part of the sessions twice a day.

The patients also noted that music made them feel more normal and calm as well as giving them a sense of control, the study reported.

Among the different music played, the researchers said slow-tempo music had a significantly greater effect than music selected by patient preference.

The scientists noted that patients who listened to the slower-tempo, relaxing music two hours per day needed less sedation, and had more delirium free days.

By contrast, they said no matter which of the three books they heard while on the ventilator, patients rated audiobooks poorly, with lower acceptance than music of any type.

'Our work is novel in that we explored the effect of music on critically ill, mechanically ventilated adults age 18 and older, a very different group for whom music and delirium has not been previously studied,' Khan said.

'It's the first study of its type based on science -- in previous work on biomarkers we had shown that slow-tempo music yielded less stress hormones in blood -- and science won,' he added. PTI VIS VIS VIS