Drumming – Documented Medical Benefits of Facilitated Drum Circles

Some documented medical benefits of drumming:

Stress

Blood samples from participants of an hour-long drumming session revealed a reversal of the hormonal stress response and an increase in natural killer cell activity (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, #1).

Depression

Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study with 30 depressed people over 80 years of age and found that participants in a weekly music therapy group were less anxious, less distressed and had higher self-esteem (Friedman, Healing Power of the Drum, 1994).

Cancer

Subjects who participated in a clinical trial using the HealthRhythms protocol showed an increase in natural killer cell activity and an enhanced immune system. While this does not indicate a cure for cancer, such results may be of benefit for those facing this disease. (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, no. 1).

Researchers from the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Pa., Tracked 111 cancer patients who played drums for 30 minutes a day. They found strengthened immune systems and increased levels cancer-fighting cells in many patients.

Alzheimer’s Disease

According to Clair, Bernstein and Johnson (1995), Alzheimer’s patients who drum can connect better with loved ones. The predictability of rhythm may provide the framework for repetitive responses that make few cognitive demands on people with dementia.

Other researchers have found the sound of drums could be influence how bodies work.
Quoted in a 2001 article in USA Today, Suzanne Hasner, chairwoman of the department of music therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston, says even those with dementia or head injuries retain musical ability.

Parkinson’s Diseases and Stroke

Rhythmic cues can help retrain the brain after a stroke or other neurological impairment, according to Michael Thaurt, director of Colorado State University’s Center of Biomedical Research in Music.
Researchers have also discovered that hearing slow, steady rhythms, such as drumbeats, helps Parkinson patients move more steadily (Friedman, Healing Power of the Drum, 1994).

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain has a devastating propensity for progressively draining quality of life.
Technology and pharmacology are falling short of the mark needed to improve quality of life and reduce pain, according to Dr. Barry Bittman in the Pain Practitioner.
(Lingerman, H. 1995, Music and You. In the Healing Energies of Music. Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical Publishing House).

Strengthens the Immune System

Objective: To determine the role of group-drumming music therapy as a composite activity with potential for alteration of stress-related hormones and enhancement of immunologic measures associated with natural killer cell activity and cell-mediated immunity.
Conclusions: Drumming is a complex composite intervention with the potential to modulate specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune parameters in a direction opposite to that expected with the classic stress response.
(Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music Therapy on Modulation of Neuroendocrine-Immune Parameters in Normal Subjects (2001)Bittman MD, Berk LS,Felten DL,Westengard J,Simonton OD,Pappas J,Ninehouser MD; Alternative Ther Health Med 2001: 7:38-4).

Improves Mood States and Reduces Burnout

Hypothesis: a cost-effective Yamaha Clavinova-based HealthRHYTHMS Recreational Music-Making protocol reduces burnout and improves mood states in long-term care workers.
What we studied: At Westbury United Methodist Retirement Community we studied 112 employees’ mood states (POMS-Profile of Mood States & MBI-Maslach Burnout Inventory) including: tension/anxiety (T/A), depression/dejection (D/D), anger/hostility (A/H), vigor/activity (V/A), fatigue/inertia (F/I) and confusion/bewilderment (C/B). Total Mood Disturbance (TMD) is the sum of the above mood parameters weighing V/A negatively.

What we found: A 46% improvement in total mood disturbance, and 62% improvement 6 weeks post intervention. Economic Impact projections – a typical 100 bed long-term care facility would expect to experience an 18.3% overall reduction in employee turnover.

Retention of 11 of 60 positions predicted to be lost each year would result in an average cost savings of $89,100 per year.
Total annual savings to the industry based on an 18.3% decrease in turnover at every long-term care facility is therefore projected at $1.46 billion.
(Recreational Music-Making: A Cost-Effective Group Interdisciplinary Strategy for Reducing Burnout and Improving Mood States in Long-Term Care Workers (2003) Bittman MD, Karl T. Bruhn, Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC, James Westengard, Paul O Umbach, MA ;Advances in Mind-Body Medicine Fall/Winter 2003, Vol. 19 No. 3/4)

Mood Improvement & Burnout Reduction for Nursing Students

Hypothesis: a cost-effective Mind-Body Wellness Exercise-based HealthRHYTHMS Recreational Music-Making protocol reduces burnout and improves mood states in First Year Associate Degree Nursing Students.
What we studied:At Allegany College of Maryland we studied 75 first year associate degree nursing students’ mood states (POMS-Profile of Mood States & MBI-Maslach Burnout Inventory) including: tension/anxiety, depression/dejection, anger/hostility, vigor/activity, fatigue/inertia and confusion/bewilderment.

Total Mood Disturbance (TMD) is the sum of the above mood parameters weighing V/A negatively.
What we found: A 28.1% improvement in total mood disturbance. Economic Impact projections – a typical 105 -student program would expect to retain 2 additional students each year.
This improvement in retention rates would result in a projected annual savings of $29.1 million to US Nursing Schools.
Extending this analysis to the healthcare arena, these projected retention improvements could result in cost savings of $322,000 for the typical acute care hospital, and more than 1.5 billion for the US healthcare industry.
(Recreational Music-Making: An Integrative Group Intervention for Reducing Burnout and Improving Mood States in First Year Associate Degree Nursing Students: Insights and Economic Impact (2004) Barry Bittman MD , Cherie Snyder MSS, Karl T. Bruhn, Fran Liebfried BSN, M.ED, RN Christine K. Stevens MSW, MT-BC, James Westengard BS, Paul O. Umbach MA; International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship: Vol. 1: No. 1, Article 12).

Reverses Stress on the Genomic Level

MEADVILLE, PA—A groundbreaking study published in the February 2005 issue of the international research journal Medical Science Monitor shows for the first time that playing a musical instrument can reverse multiple components of the human stress response on the genomic level.

The study’s principal investigator, Barry Bittman, M.D. of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, PA, says these unique findings not only shed new light on the value of active music participation, but also extend our understanding of individualized human biological stress responses on an unprecedented level.
(Recreational Music-Making Modulates the Human Stress Response: A Preliminary Individualized Gene Expression Strategy. (2005) Bittman, B., Berk, L., Shannon, M., Sharaf, M., Westengard, J., Guegler, K.J., and Ruff, D.W. Medical Science Monitor, February 2005)

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