GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As families and patients of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital know all too well, time spent in the care of doctors and nurses can be filled with fear and anxiety.
To help alleviate some of the pain and normalize the hospital environment, music therapists Abby Walters and Katie Rushlow offer musical sessions both by the patient’s bedside and out of their music department.
“We are an evidence-based practice where we offer musical services, but we’re actually trying to achieve nonmusical goals,” Rushlow said.
Such goals include teaching people healthy coping techniques, self-soothing behavior and the decrease of anxiety, which leads to bring the heart rate and respiratory rates down.
“Even in the best-case scenarios here, it’s still the worst-case scenario because a family is dealing with a child in the hospital and a child is dealing with their body not feeling the way it’s supposed to feel,” Walters said.
The hospital’s music therapy has been offered since 2015. Since its inception, they have helped hundreds of families deal with the harsh reality of being in the hospital. While so much of a patient’s life is dictated by medical needs, this program is something patients and their families can opt into.
“I feel like nine times out of 10 families are really just looking for some relief and some joy,” Walters said.