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Music Has The Power To Heal Young Patients

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Doctors and patients at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth are learning that music has the power to heal. CBS 11 News spent a day with one of the hospital’s music therapists.

While most kids are out enjoying the summer, 3-year-old Max Turcotte sits inside this room at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth battling a tough infection. “Very grumpy, and just not himself,” said his mother, Paula. “Don’t touch me, just pushing you away. Don’t touch my stuff. Leave me alone.”

But, all of that changes when music therapist Shea Ingram comes to see him. “For him, this is a good outlet for all that physical energy,” Ingram said.

CBS 11 News watched the transformation as he banged out his feelings on the drums — turning from sick patient into a smiling, rambunctious toddler again. “And he’s happy and more Max-like… like he is at home,” Paula said.

“Hearing that is therapeutic for mom and dad, because they’ve gotten to have that sigh of relief when they don’t have the ability to fix what their child is going through,” Ingram explained.

According to Ingram, studies have shown that music therapy can help kids heal faster than kids who do not receive the therapy. In fact, Ingram said, it has been proven that babies in the NICU who receive music therapy will be released faster than those who do not.

“It’s not necessarily in the moment of music therapy that you can see the best results, but I think it’s a 30-minute interval afterwards that you see them calming easier and tolerating things better,” Ingram said.

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CBS 11 News spent several hours walking the halls of Cook Children’s Hospital with Ingram and her cart full of instruments. She carries a guitar, drums, shakers, an electric piano and other sorts of noisemakers. It is all up to the child what he or she wants to do with their time.

“A lot of times, the best therapy that I can do for a kid is give him control, because they don’t have any really here,” Ingram said. “They have to take medicine when they’re told. They have to eat when they’re told.”

“Is it just to create a little bit of normalcy they might experience if they weren’t inside of a hospital?” CBS 11 News asked Ingram.

“For some kids it is, yeah, for some it’s just that simple,” she said. “But for other kids, it’s their only outlet.”

Adrian Lopez has been in the hospital for two months dealing with intestinal problems. The 8-year-old has become good friends with Ingram’s piano and all the sounds it makes. He lights up when she visits and when he gets to hit all the right buttons. But big kids like Adrian and Max are not the only ones who benefit from Ingram’s music therapy.

CBS 11 News also met the Holder family. Emmaline Holder is just 28 weeks old, born prematurely and now striving to get stronger. Ingram taught Holder’s parents to sing to her, monitor her heart rate and oxygen levels, and help her brain through music.

“We’re giving them developmental stimulation which they would be having if they weren’t stuck in here,” Ingram said. “Giving them the stimulation they need to grow, but not overdoing it, so it doesn’t inhibit their healing.”

No matter the age, Ingram said, music can play an important role in healing — both for the patient and the parents.

“The music part of the music therapy training gives them the ability to use the tools in a way that’ll help them, but again, they’re the ones that are usually using the tools,” she said. “I provide the link between the therapeutic side of it and the fun side of it.”

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