Music therapy helps Huntsville's youngest cancer patients
Kids in Huntsville Hospital's cancer unit are hitting all the right notes on the track to recovery.
Music therapy is the medicine that's helping them develop all kinds of skills when they're just having a good time. It uses playing an instrument to reach goals that don't have anything to do with music.
With all the ukuleles and drums in Krysee Wright's music class, some of the hospital's youngest cancer patients might not even know it's therapy.
"The best thing about music therapy is we can treat all of these different needs at the same time without having to stop and start an activity," Wright said. "Because drumming and playing the ukulele covers all of those bases of the social needs, the physical needs, the motor skills, the cognitive needs of having to think in sequence."
Research from the Journal of Neuroscience shows playing music can improve all of those skills and it engages both hemispheres of the brain at the same time.
"The children just think that we're playing here and having fun but we have goals that we're working on," Wright said. "Trying to make sure that their neuropathy is under control and they're keeping a lot of the motor skills that they need to have, talking through just the perils of going through cancer treatment. And a lot of times we're just hanging out and just being kids again."
"I like trying to keep up with the rhythm or trying to create a new one," said 11-year old Jacob Brown.
Music therapy isn't just for kids. It ranges from helping premature babies gain weight to helping stroke patients re-learn how to walk.
For Wright, it's all about the little guys and success stories like the girl whose limited use of her arm won't keep her from rocking out.
"She went from only using one of her fingers to push and now she is up to full chords, writing her own songs, able to everything every other guitarist is able to do," she said. "Now we're gonna work on Led Zepplin!"