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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 06:50 GMT
Harp therapy for cancer patients
Bethan Hughes
Ms Hughes trained as a harp therapist in the USA
Cancer patients in Cardiff will be played harp music as they receive their chemotherapy after research showed the sound of the instrument eased pain.

Harpist Bethan Hughes has been employed by Velindre Cancer Centre to play music to people being treated there.

It follows research in America which showed that listening to the harp lowered the heart rate.

A first harp-therapy session at the unit was held on Wednesday and the musician took requests from patients.

Ms Hughes, who is a trained harp-therapist, has worked in hospitals and hospices in the US and is also working with troops from the armed forces who are suffering from post-traumatic stress in order to ease symptoms.

She said: "After doing my degree I trained in America specifically in harp therapy.

Barbara Wilson
It helps the patient's body relax whilst they're undergoing the treatments they're receiving
Barbara Wilson, nurse manager

"It can't just be used by any harpist, you have to be specifically trained.

"I also worked in cancer hospitals and hospices in America so I know how advanced they are with harp therapy research over there. It would be nice to use what I've learnt in Wales.

"As an international performer, we are so used to being trained classically but with harp therapy we're trained in so many aspects - vibration frequency, resonance tones, and the medical and physical side of the strings and vibration levels of the harp.

"It definitely works. I'm actually using it with the UK and US troops on the front line and they're finding that the stress levels and post-traumatic stress levels are lowered."

Staff at Velindre are hoping that the sound of the harp playing will have a positive effect on patients.

Surveys before and after treatment to monitor how patients respond to the music and whether it reduces stress levels will be carried out as part of the therapy.

Barbara Wilson, clinical nurse manager at the hospital said: "I think there's growing evidence out there that it helps relax the patient.

"There's growing evidence in America that it does decrease the blood pressure and helps oxygenation around the body.

"It helps the patient's body relax whilst they're undergoing the treatments they're receiving," she added.

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