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Health Spotlight: A kid heals with magic of music at hospital

(WISH) — A music therapy was designed to help save children so sick they spend most of their lives inside a hospital.

Being hospitalized can be a difficult and often traumatic experience for anyone, but, for children, it can be especially challenging. They are forced to endure painful medical treatments, unfamiliar people, and separation from their families. As a result, many children experience anxiety, depression and other emotional challenges while in the hospital.

But now, therapies that don’t involve any medications, needle pricks, or painful surgeries are helping kids heal

Emmett Bleyle, 5, is an example. Each song helps him heal. Emmett’s official diagnosis is PMM2-congenital disorder of glycosylation.

Emmett’s mom, Rylie Bleyle, was told her baby boy would not live to his first birthday. “They didn’t think he had another six months in him, and here we are.”

Emmett averages two to three hospital stays a month with a care team of more than 18 specialists. His mother believes a key to his survival.

Sara Schmidt of Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City said, “I started seeing Emmett when he was like 18 months old. He was so small and he couldn’t sit up.”

Expressive therapists at the hospital believe music, dance, art and play help hospitalized kids through the physical, emotional and psychological issues that come with illnesses and long hospital stays. Schmidt said, “Music access is a different part of your brain than other modalities do. And so through music and the arts, we’re able to accomplish different goals.”

So, music motivates Emmett and other kids to work on different developmental goals. “And also, it’s a way for him to express, kind of, his process being here and a way for him to express how he’s feeling, what he’s going through,” Schmidt said.
“sometimes we can reach these kiddos better than other providers here in the hospital can.” (:06)

Studies show expressive therapies helps children manage their pain and anxiety, boost immunity, and contribute to faster physical healing. Schmidt said, “Letting Emmett emotionally reset that way through dancing and through singing and through playing with instruments and things like that, I think that’s kind of reset his body to the point where we’ve walked away for some instances that we shouldn’t have.”

The music therapist at the hospital also does something called legacy work. They talk to the parents and work with them to create a song when their child is nearing their end of life. They play the song for the child, record it, creating a special memory for the parents.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV.