Recovering From Sinus Surgery? Hit Play
The human brain is a byzantine and startling organ. New avenues of research are constantly arising that demonstrate just how inextricable the mind is from the rest of human health. (See, for example, this novel treatment for phantom limb pain.)
One especially active area of brain-body research has is music: many recent studies have demonstrated strong links between the use of ambient music and a number of health indicators, including stress levels, heart rate and mood. Recently the New York Times explored just how consistently positive these outcomes tend to be:
In particular, classical music helped improve heart-rate variability, a measure of stress and resilience, while relaxing music led to decreased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in a group of students who were engaged in stressful activities. Music had, as well, more indirect effects on both emotion and behavior, making people happier, more relaxed, less anxious, and less overwhelmed. As a result of both the physiology and the psychology, the authors concluded, music was an effective way of improving outcomes for patients who had undergone surgery, or, indeed, any medical procedure.
Yet not all music is created equal. Researchers have found more than once, for instance, that Vivaldi tends to produce greater benefits than Enya. (No word yet on the curative powers of One Direction, but anecdotal evidence seems inevitable.) Individual tastes may play a role as well, especially for patients who are neither exceptionally old nor exceptionally young:
In a recent review of the data on music use in modern medicine, the biologist Guenther Bernatzky and his colleagues concluded that, as long as the music follows certain basic parameters, patient self-selection offers the best results in surgical outcomes.
If you’ve ever wondered whether you thought of everything for your postoperative care, you may also want to consider adding a playlist. You never know when the right tune will spark something powerful deep inside.