Cost effective music therapy could help reduce stress upon UK healthcare system

Our healthcare system here in the UK is under significant strain. The current covid-19 pandemic has dramatically highlighted the increased need for more medical staff, supplies, equipment, medicines and treatments, not to mention the cost of all those aspects.

This pandemic alone is costing an innumerable amount not only in monetary terms but also in medical staff’s time and lives. And yet, in amongst all of this, people are still experiencing usual accidents and illnesses that also require addressing.

For instance, falls in those aged 65 years and over cost the healthcare system in the UK approximately £4.4 billion due to treatment, consultations and rehabilitation following a fragility fracture (which usually consists of physiotherapy and occupational therapy). And these falls are still happening now. The issue today is that a visit to the hospital for someone over 65 years could result in contracting the virus whilst receiving treatment for a fracture. There was never a more important time for fall intervention as right now.

Music Therapy and Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) are proven, cost-effective techniques to help improve gait, balance, co-ordination and stability especially in the elderly. Intervention would dramatically help reduce the rate of falls as well as the amount of people admitted to hospital for fragility fractures.

It costs little to execute and in most cases can be undertaken in group form, which not only helps improve mental wellbeing of participants, but also reduces costs of having to treat one individual at a time.

Intervention before a fall is obviously ideal, but if one fall has occurred already, it’s likely another will happen. Ineffective rehab following the first fall could leave the patient unsteady, unbalanced and un-coordinated which is why music therapy would be the ideal treatment following the initial fall.

As music therapy helps improve strength, rehab engagement, improve gait and stride, recurrence is far less likely than without this intervention.

It is the rhythmic aspect of music that makes it fundamental in helping improve walking stride and cadence. Music therapy is a combination of music and physical activity. As the brain automatically connects with music, music is able to evoke physical movement and in turn, improve stability of gait and therefore reduce incidences of fall recurrence.

It’s also important to remember communication can be impaired in the elderly due to cognitive impairment or disease. Music can be used to restore communication between them and their environment. This is another important point to consider when implementing music therapy or fall prevention, as a connection to their environment is also a means to reduce fall recurrence.

Music therapy provides many benefits to fall prevention in the elderly. From improving strength, stride, cadence, co-ordination and balance, to improving mental wellbeing, as well as restoring a connection between them and their environment, it remains a fundamental fact that, implementing music therapy to those at greater risk of falls, can help prevent recurrence.