the gift of music

the gift of music

Thanks to the generous support of orthopaedic knee surgeon Dr Quang Dao, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead can continue to offer music therapy.

For some children, listening to music is a pastime while for others it is used as a means of therapy. Practitioners at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney use music to assist children develop relationships and improve their social skills with peers. This form of therapy is also wonderful for developing self esteem and self confidence, and encouraging children to communicate their feelings. By providing support and a positive experience, patients experience a reduction in stress and anxiety; and there is the added benefit of developing musical and artistic skills.

Charmaine, who was diagnosed with scoliosis kyphosis at seven years old, is a long-term rehabilitation patient in The Surgical Ward at Westmead. Charmaine’s mother Myra says she has seen significant improvement in her daughter’s attitude and confidence through the use of music therapy. “Charmaine is learning to play the guitar, drums and keyboard,” Myra says. “It has been great to see her become good friends with her music therapist Miriam.”

It is the success with Charmaine and other children in The Surgical Ward that prompted a new purchase for the Hall Ward at Westmead, the ward responsible for the treatment of psychiatric conditions. Thanks to Dr Quang Dao who purchased Box Magazine subscriptions as gifts for his patients, the Hall Ward recently received a selection of music equipment. Hall Ward music therapist Kate Bulfin says the ward’s program engages both the creative and therapeutic aspects of music as a non- threatening treatment for health and wellbeing.

“Music provides the creative piece to the multidisciplinary team of doctors, nursing staff and other allied health staff here on the ward,” she says. “Since the commencement of this program in 2007, we have seen the positive impact that music had placed on willing participants in both the music groups and individual therapy sessions.”

As part of the donation, the ward received an Ipod, speakers, relaxation and contemporary CDs as well as an iTunes card to continually inject new music into the program. A cello and xylophone were also bought for use in receptive, relaxation groups along with a set of hand drums for active music making. In addition, the ward made a complementary purchase by way of new music software for song writing groups and individual sessions, to be used as a therapeutic outlet for self-expression.

Without generous support from people such as Dr Dao and organisations like ToyBox, patients undergoing specialised treatment would not be able to experience the positive benefits of music as a therapeutic intervention within a hospital setting. “Our sincerest thanks to everyone at ToyBox and never underestimate the power of music,” Kate says.

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