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Sounds of Recovery Brings Joy of Music to Baystate Pediatric Palliative Care Program

June 06, 2018

Music can bring joy, relaxation, focus, determination, and, for many, it has a profound impact on their day-to-day lives. For children across western Massachusetts in the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at Baystate Home Health, music can now be a part of their day-to-day experiences, too.

Thanks to a recent grant from Sounds of Recovery, an organization that champions the practice of music therapy, young patients who are receiving at home care, along with their siblings and parents, now have the opportunity to work with a music therapist.

Music as Medicine

Music therapy can assist with relaxation, pain management, distraction, communication, and it also allows patients to participate actively in their treatment. Nobody knows that better than Stephanie Platzer, the music therapist for the Pediatric Palliative Care Program.

"Music therapy works by engaging more parts of the brain that almost any other stimulus. For our kids and teens at Baystate, music has been a powerful tool for enhancing physiological health and facilitating learning and communication,” said Stephanie.

In the program, Stephanie works with patients ranging from one month to 19 years old who are living with illnesses that would limit their normal lives, such as cancer and blood disorders, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, major-organ failure, progressive genetic, neurologic, and metabolic disorders, and severe cerebral palsy.

These children are treated in home by a visiting nurse and complementary therapies such as art therapy, music therapy, and massage therapy are often used to relieve stress and improve the quality of life for the young patients.

“We are thrilled to have the support of Sounds of Recovery! Of all the therapies we offer, families often ask for more music therapy,” said Michele O’Neill, MA, LCSW, CCLS, Pediatric Palliative Care Program coordinator at Baystate Home Health and Hospice. “The whole family benefits from the work our music therapists do in the homes. We see such positive results in the children after a therapy session.”

Therapy Courtesy of Local Organization

Massachusetts-based Sounds of Recovery was founded by Lisa Kittredge whose husband Mike’s recovery from a serious stroke was impacted through the power of music therapy. As a result of the therapy, Mike, a lifelong musician, became much more aware and engaged, and even began to vocalize.

“It was clear he greatly enjoyed each therapy session, and it was also apparent that the music was reaching him in a way that his other therapies simply could not,” said Lisa.

Lisa knew then that she had to support music therapists and music therapy programs so that other could benefit from these life-altering treatments. Now, young patients in the Baystate Pediatric Palliative Care Program benefit from these services, too.

Learn more about the services, initiatives, and projects supported by the Baystate Health Foundation.