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Health Spotlight: The Magic of Music

Health Spotlight: The Magic of Music

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Being hospitalized is 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’s mom Rylie 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,” said Rylie.

5-year-old Emmett averages two to three hospital stays a month with a care team of more than 18 specialists.

Expressive therapists at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital believe music, dance, art, and play helps hospitalized kids through the physical, emotional, and psychological issues that come with illnesses and long hospital stays.

“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,” said Katie Lahue, a therapist at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

Using music to motivate kids like Emmett to work on different developmental goals.

“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 and what he’s going through.”

“Sometimes, we can reach these kiddos better than other providers here in the hospital can,” said Eliana Rivera, a therapist at Intermountain.

Studies show expressive therapies helps children manage their pain and anxiety, boost immunity, and contribute to faster physical healing.

“Letting Emmett emotionally reset that way through dancing, singing, playing with instruments, and things like that,” said Rylie. “I think that kind of reset his body to the point where we’ve walked away for some instances that we shouldn’t have.”

The magic of music, a powerful tool in helping kids like Emmett heal.

The music therapists at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital do 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 and record it, creating a special memory for the parents.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.