Healing power of music lifting the spirits of Tri-State cancer patients

Cincinnati Opera partners with UC Health

CINCINNATI -- A new relationship between the University of Cincinnati Barrett Cancer Center and Cincinnati Opera is lifting the spirits of hospital patients.

Experts say music therapy can enhance quality of life. It can serve as a "mega vitamin" for the brain, and influence and improve motor function.

Four UC Health neurosurgeons forged the opera partnership . One of those doctors is John Tew, a neurosurgeon and Clinical Director of the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute.

"Music makes your spirit come to the surface and be prepared to be healed," said Tew. "There is a great need for healing in the Barrett Cancer Center."

Research shows music can help reduce anxiety and even pain.

"It helps you overcome negative feelings," Tew said. "Attitude is so important. It determines so much how you will deal with difficult problems, such as cancer, depression or a major surgery."

If you have a family member suffering from a serious illness, Tew said playing music will have a positive effect on their mind and body.

Studies show that music, with its complex and widespread neural pathways, enables some individuals with neurological diseases or disorders to rise above limitations in specific parts of the brain.

The act of singing employs pathways that are different from those used in speaking.

"Music helps release good types of proteins in the brain that take the place of opiates," Tew said. "If you can listen to beautiful music or have beautiful thoughts it takes away a lot of stress and depression, which is obviously a problem with cancer."

UC Health is practicing integrative medicine and is "trying to use all of the forces of the sense to help our patients get better," Tew said.

And music is one of those forces.

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