Friday 4 November 2016, 12:52 | By

In the News November 2016: Music has a hold on us

CSL In The News


Creative Skills for Life are always looking for exciting, creative ways in which life-limiting or long term health conditions are being tackled, challenged or reimagined. And now we are applying this same ambition to the challenge (and opportunities) presented by our ageing society as the Agile Ageing Alliance.
In our search we regularly find unlikely collaborators. This month is no different, as we kick off with one project that brought together the worlds of neuroscience and hip-hop.

Breakdancing and the brain

In this great article from The Creators Project, we learned about a recent collaboration between doctors exploring the mysteries of the human brain, and practitioners of a cultural movement that started over 40 years ago in the warehouses of urban America.

Realised in an; “inclusive dance performance focused on the visually impaired”, it took place in a city rarely associated with hip-hop, Sheffield. The collaboration was part of a 10-day event called Festival of the Mind, which brings together artists and academics for collaborative projects that seek to publically illustrate science and its findings.

Dr. Aneurin Kennerley, a physicist at the University of Sheffield, explains in the article: “We’d been studying the unlikely link between hip-hop and visual impairment. What we found was that breaking seemed to be the most physical dance form available to improve visual impairment.”

Have a read to learn more about the theory behind the programme and its findings, but what a perfect example of collaboration bringing about something bold, informative and visual – in a way that others too might gain a little insight into a life-limiting condition.

Vinyl mats and turntables to be prescribed on the NHS?

Are you sitting comfortably?

Music isn’t just for dancing though, as we saw in this recent article on the positive effect it can have on children when facing the pain of injections.

According to the article: “Children who received music therapy during a routine immunization visit were less stressed and better able to cope with the procedure than those who didn’t receive music therapy, and their parents were less stressed, too.”

Although the study’s author acknowledges the music won’t remove entirely the child’s experience of pain, their findings did suggest that it can certainly go far enough to improve the experience. Add this to the fact music can help us from the womb to kick-starting grey matter when experiencing dementia, then we feel pretty strongly that music therapy will become an even larger part of living healthier and happier lives.

Who cares?

Two people who definitely care about the role of creativity in health are The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. In this recent article, we saw that through their WHO Cares charity, the rockers helped create a place for teenagers with cancer to; “feel like teenagers and immerse in an atmosphere far unlike a hospital’s program”.

According to the article, The Lounge at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; “is a space designed especially for this unique age group… and was made possible by a $1 million donation from Teen Cancer America – the non-profit organization, co-founded by Daltrey and Townshend… to develop specialized facilities for teens and young adults with cancer.”

The full article is worth a read as it explores the work of one its resident artists, and seeks to understand what inspires great art. But in summary, institutions like this prove that investment doesn’t always have to be in more equipment and drugs. It can also be in facilities that allow people to understand the emotional impact of serious illness, and provide a place where they can simply be themselves and not just a condition.

Game time

And how else might we reimagine healthcare? What about turning it into a game?

The gamification theory was summed up in this recent article from Denise Silber, in which she wrote: “Physicians and other healthcare providers are beginning to ask how they can use gamification tools to help their patients engage in a healthy lifestyle, take their medications as directed, and even to feel less pain thanks to the distraction that a great game can create.”

Examples were the game Monster Manor for children with type 1 diabetes, which involves winning virtual coins whenever they measure their blood glucose. Another was a game for people with dementia a ‘cybercycling’ exergame (exercise game) which was found to offer better cognitive function than traditional exercise alone.

Concept like this suggest the closer we align the things we enjoy – whether that’s playing games or listening to music – with treatments for life-limiting or long term conditions, the better we might address their potential stigma and emotional impact.

That’s all for now, but until next month’s CSL news review make sure to join us on Twitter where we share all the great and inspiring stories we see on our travels. And if you would like to join the conversation in the exciting and dynamic world of the Agile Ageing Alliance, then why not join our LinkedIn group today?