By Amy Albin
Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA has a new mobile tool to deliver music therapy and help pediatric patients cope with the fear, isolation and pain associated with being in the hospital.
The Music Rx unit is a high-tech, interactive studio on wheels that includes everything necessary for music therapy, both in group settings and one-on-one. It holds a variety of instruments, including drums, keyboards and guitars, as well as Apple GarageBand software for recording music, a custom-built iPod docking station with 10 iPods to loan, and a large LCD screen that plays hundreds of music videos.
The cart will be officially unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Mattel Children’s Hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 2 p.m. The media is invited to arrive at 1 p.m. for a special musical demonstration involving pediatric patients and UCLA’s music therapist.
The Music Rx cart was donated to UCLA’s Child Life/Child Development Services department by the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA), with support from the Starlight Children’s Foundation. UCLA is one of first hospitals to participate in the CCA’s nationwide expansion of the Music Rx program, which began in Portland, Ore.
“We are proud to join hands with our friends at Mattel Children’s Hospital and Starlight to bring the healing power of music to thousands of hospitalized children in California,” said Mary Turina, president and CEO of the CCA. “The staff have been incredible partners throughout this project, and I have no doubt they will change lives through the Music Rx Program.”
Vanya Green, UCLA’s board-certified music therapist, who is also a musician and songwriter, will incorporate Music Rx in her work with children.
“The Music Rx cart is very versatile and has really streamlined everything I need to help our patients benefit from music therapy,” Green said. “When the kids, nurses and staff see the interactive music video screen and hear the instruments, the mood is lightened and they get really excited!”
The motto of Music Rx is “music is my med.” In the hospital setting, music therapy can be used to help alleviate pain, improve a patient’s mood, stimulate movement and communication, calm anxieties and fears, promote relaxation, and make the hospital feel more like home. The patient does not need any musical experience or ability to participate in music therapy.
A 2008 CCA study of Music Rx showed that the program had a positive effect on a child’s mood, family bonding and pain scores, compared with those who did not receive the music therapy.
A second component of the Music Rx program features a live music element, with professional harpists, cellists, flautists and other community musicians playing soothing music in the pediatric hallways.
Further expanding on the music therapy program at UCLA, the Pediatric Pain Program at Mattel Children’s Hospital and Music to Heal are developing a recording studio where patients can compose and record their own music using industry-standard software.
The Children’s Cancer Association (CCA): When seriously ill kids and their families need more than medicine, CCA is there with compassion and innovation, creating moments of respite and hope in the hospital and at home. Managed by a professional staff and powered by volunteers, CCA brings soothing music in a time of crisis, friendship in a time of loneliness, resources in a time of turmoil and vital support in the midst of life-threatening illness. CCA brings hope, possibility and a little magic to some of the most difficult days families will ever face.
Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, one of the highest-rated children’s hospitals in Southern California, is a vital component of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, ranked the third best hospital in nation and best in the western United States by U.S. News & World Report. Mattel Children’s Hospital offers a full spectrum of primary and specialized medical care for infants, children and adolescents. The hospital’s mission is to provide state-of-the-art treatment for children in a compassionate atmosphere and to improve the understanding and treatment of pediatric diseases.