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Caring for premature infants through music


Listening to music can be beneficial to people of all ages, but a new music therapy program at Tufts Medical Center at Tufts Medical Center shows just how powerful it can be. Working with licensed therapists, our physicans are using music exposure to help improve the health of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

How music therapy helps babies

Music and other calming sounds can improve vital signs and sleep for babies who are born prematurely. Much like how music can motivate people to exercise, it can also small infants.

“The research is showing that playing music for neonates can really impact their growth and development,” said Andrea Colliton, the director of Child Life Services at Tufts Medical Center.

The parents of Oshane Downes Jr., born after 30 weeks and a few days, were eager to try the program. “They brought it up because they said it could soothe him, with his heartbeat, and help him with his feeding,” explained Keisha Downes, the baby’s mother. The family worked with Susan Bakourous, a music therapist who recently received her master’s degree from the Berklee College of Music.

music therapy

Music therapy training 

Being a music therapist requires a degree, hours of clinical practice, and a demanding course load. While studying music therapy, students also take classes related to psychology, developmental psychology, human anatomy, and physiology.

Bakourous said that the education was crucial for understanding how to help these fragile, tiny patients. She explained that she used to dream of performing on Broadway but discovered that music therapy provided a much greater reward.

“We’re all teary-eyed -- all the nurses, the parents, the doctors, and me, to be part of their journey,” said Bakourous.

Click here to watch a video on Tufts Medical Center's music therapy program by Boston 25 News.