As usual, I was receiving one of my Google Alerts, regarding topic in mechanical ventilation, and I was really curious, reading a pretty “strange” study title “The influence of music during mechanical ventilation and weaning from mechanical ventilation: A review – Breanna Hetland, Ruth Lindquist, Linda L. Chlan

I still hadn’t the chance to read the full article, but my mind started working; we are listening to music every day, in the most various and different occasions (at home, in the metro, when we commute, on long car trip) and basically we are doing it to enjoy the time or to avoid being bored. So, the idea of having this kind of treatment in an intensive care unit (which is for patients, relatives and caregiver very unpleasant) was, to me, brilliant.

I started to think all the time that I saw this kind of “healing technique” in my job, as a healthcare professional, working in different ICU and Neonatal ICU (NICU)  in Italy: I saw patients reading newspaper, watching TV, always being conscious. But I also remembered the importance of a healing acoustic environment for small babies in the womb and for small premature babies in the NICU, the so called developmental care.

Making a quick search for “music and intensive care unit” in PubMed, helped me to discover a new world: it reduces the level of anxiety, it reduces the perception of pain, it increases the GCS scale points, it helps patients to sleep better, it helps to decrease the use of narcotics while having the same level of sedation and, very important to me, as I work as well in NICU, it helps development and care of preterm newborns (and obviously their families): here, here and here

This approach is in continuous development, but, at least in my country, there is no, still, a strong sub-culture to establish this kind of approach in the delivery of care.

This is because ICUs are usually understaffed, with more critical patients and with a chronic lack in the needed tools. But, on the other way, music is a noninvasive tool, it’s pleasant and, for sure, very cheap to be implemented in ICU.

So let’s this give it a try. I’ll start today, spreading the news and informing caregivers and relatives, but maybe you already started to do it.

Are you using music, as a therapeutic tool, in your unit?

Emilio Carmignotto