Art, Music, DanceBurnsPain

Music therapy to aid burn dressing changes

Researchers at Case Western Reserve, University School of Medicine, in Cleveland, Ohio, studied the effect of music therapy on pain, anxiety, and muscle tension levels during dressing changes in burn patients.

First, the details.

  • 29 inpatients received each treatment in random order.
    • Music therapy services on day 1 of the study
    • Music therapy services on day 2 of the study
    • On control days, they received no music
  • On music days, patients practiced music-based imagery (MBI), a form of music-assisted relaxation with patient-specific mental imagery before and after dressing changes.
  • Also, on music days during dressing changes, the patients engaged in music alternate engagement (MAE), which consisted of active participation in music making.
  • Patients’ subjective ratings of pain and anxiety and the research nurse’s objective ratings of their muscle tension levels were recorded.

And, the results.

  • There was a significant decrease in pain before, during, and after dressing changes on music therapy days in contrast to control days.
  • Music therapy was also associated with a significant decrease in anxiety and muscle tension during the dressing changes followed by a significant reduction in muscle tension after dressing changes.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Music therapy significantly decreases the acute procedural pain, anxiety, and muscle tension levels associated with daily burn care.”

These findings support research conducted several years ago at Catholic University of Daegu, in Korea. Similarly, these researchers reported, “Music therapy composed of self-selected music is a valuable intervention for the treatment of pain and anxiety in patients undergoing burn dressing changes.

5/31/10 21:10 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.