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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 23:17 GMT 00:17 UK
Music 'aids the healing process'
By Pallab Ghosh
BBC News science correspondent

Could music actually help the healing process?
Listening to music makes us feel better - but many doctors are now beginning to believe that it does much more.

There is emerging evidence that it can bring about physical changes to the body that can improve our health.

The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London has regular performances - and has seen impressive results.

A scientific study by the hospital has found that patients who listen to live music need less drugs and recover more quickly than those who do not.

We are approaching the point where a doctor would legitimately be negligent not to actually recommend music as a therapeutic intervention
Professor Paul Robertson

According to Dr Rosalia Staricoff, who carried out the study, there is growing scientific evidence that music aids physical changes which can help heal the body.

She said: "The physiological benefits have been measured. Music reduces blood pressure, the heart rate, and hormones related to stress."

Building evidence

Professor Paul Robertson regularly plays violin for patients in various hospitals.

He is a scientist as well as an accomplished musician.

He is now carrying out clinical trials to see how exactly music affects the brain and the body.

He said: "We are approaching the point where a doctor would legitimately be negligent not to actually recommend music as a therapeutic intervention.

"What we are currently doing is building up the body of evidence so that we can say with clinical confidence that this is truly a beneficial intervention."

The worlds largest medical charity, The Wellcome Trust, is now bringing together academics and artists to explore the possibility of putting music therapy on a more scientific footing.

The man behind it is Dr Ken Arnold, head of public programmes for the trust.

He said "Our interest is in bringing together people as disparate as a musician, a psychologist, and a social thinker to share their ideas on music health and well being."

Musicians perform for patients at a London hospital

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