Research Studies

This information source is devoted to summarizing research studies and reports involving vibroacoustic therapy. The information is presented in a summary or abstract format.

  • Alzheimer's / Dementia

    "The Preference for Vibrotactile Versus Auditory Stimuli in Severely Regressed Persons with Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type compared with Dementia Due to Ethanol Abuse"

    Source:
    Published Journal Article

    Location:
    Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Topeka, Kansas

    Contact Information:
    Alicia Ann Clair, Ph.D RMT-BC, Director of Music Therapy
    Department of Art, Music Education and Music Therapy
    311 Baily Hall, The University of Kansas
    Lawrence, Kansas 66045 Barry Bernstein, RMT-BC, Clinical Music Therapist
    Colmery-O'Neil Veterans Affairs Medical Center
    2200 Gage Boulevard
    Topeka, Kansas 66622

    This study looked at the responses of nine patients with Dementia to three different musical experiences;

    1) music experienced vibrotactily via a Somatron, 2) the same music experienced free field via a tape player, and 3) periods of no music. All of the participants were shown how to choose between the three experiences (Somatron, free-field music, no music) by moving their arm, activating a switch that was on their wrist. The author found that the patients did not appear to make consistent purposeful choices during the study. No differences were noted between the responses of those participants who’s dementia was associated with Alzheimers and those who’s dementia was associated with Ethanol abuse. The author stated that the results were inconclusive. She suggested the changes in routine and the unfamiliar environment created by participating in the study as possible reasons for the inconclusive findings.

  • Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy for Reduction of Tension

    Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy for Reduction of Tension / Pain:
    A 10-Subject Pilot Study

    by Tim Hulley, M.A., C.M.P.

    Abstract

    Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy (VAHT) is a therapeutic approach in which an amplified acoustic harp is played into a chair or bed with built-in vibrational speakers, thus providing a “musical massage” for the client. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the average level of tension / pain for ten clients could be significantly reduced by a 60-minute VAHT session. This hypothesis was strongly supported by the study results, as the clients’ average subjective level of tension / pain was 49.9% lower after the VAHT treatments, and their average heart rate was 10.5% lower. These results support earlier research indicating that VAHT is effective in reducing tension / pain and suggest that continued practice and research is recommended.
    Introduction

    Among its many uses, music has been utilized as a healing modality for thousands of years. In recent years, the term “vibrational medicine” has become increasingly popular, referring to the conscious application of vibrational frequencies to facilitate healing in living beings. Healing in this context does not necessarily mean “curing” or eliminating illness, but rather achieving greater wholeness or wellness, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or energetically. There are a variety of vibrational modalities, including acupuncture, crystal healing, electrotherapy, radiology, radionics, Bach Flower Remedies, psychic healing, sound or music applications, and electromagnetics (Gerber, 2001).

    In 1980, Norwegian Olav Skille developed a healing method that came to be called Vibroacoustic Therapy (VAT), described by Skille as “a form of therapy where we transfer sound directly to the human body, using loudspeakers or transducers as the active medium … built into a chair, bed, or couch” (Williams, 1997). VAT essentially produces an “internal massage” by sending previously-recorded music into a vibroacoustic device on which a client is sitting or lying. The methodology was originally utilized with severely physically and mentally impaired children, whose symptoms included high muscle tone and spasm. Later, a variety of clinical conditions were treated with VAT in several European countries, with results including the following: a reduction of muscular tension; relief of spastic conditions / pain; treatment of pulmonary disorders; increased circulation in extremities; treatment of autism; treatment of stress, anxiety, and emotional challenges; rehabilitation therapy; improved range of motion for patients with cerebral palsy; and treatment of osteoporosis. Research conducted at the National Institutes of Health in the United States and the Kaolinski Institute in Sweden has indicated that VAT has no negative side effects (Williams, 2005).

    The harp, with its wide range of frequencies, long sustain of soothing tones, ethereal sound, and archetypal symbolism, is well suited for providing a healing influence (Williams, 1993). Live music has many medicinal benefits, including affecting us “both emotionally and physically … Music moves from the ear to the center of the brain and the limbic system, which governs the emotional responses of pain and pleasure as well as such involuntary processes as body temperature and blood pressure” (Bush, 1995). There is substantial research indicating that live harp music can be effective at reducing tension and pain, including a study in which live harp sessions decreased pain and anxiety for a group of vascular and thoracic patients (Aragon, Farris, & Byers, 2002), and another in which a decrease in respiratory rate and heart rate was achieved for patients in an oncology inpatient unit after therapeutic live harp music was played (Briggs, 2003).

    Sarajane Williams, a harpist, nurse, and psychologist, extended the use of VAT in 1990 by using an amplified harp to play music into a vibrotactile unit, thus developing the first application of Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy. The intention of a VAHT session is to provide “vibrational stimulation, resonance and harmonization in the body, mind, and energetic field, with both non-amplified and amplified, live, naturally-occurring, acoustic sound waves” (Williams, 2005). The initial sessions were conducted at a chronic pain center in Pennsylvania, and further research has followed. In one study, the pain / tension levels of clients receiving VAHT decreased by an average of three points on a 0-9 subjective rating scale covering many areas of the body, with the greatest effects on the legs, back, and shoulders (Williams, 2005), and in another, VAHT was shown to have positive effects on heart rate variability (Dallas-Feeney, 2004). Williams has continued to pioneer the practice of VAHT, conducting hundreds of client sessions, producing a variety of research studies, and teaching workshops to educate the next generation of VAHT practitioners.

    In the practice of Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy, the rhythm and vibrations of the harp music are intended to provide a strong sonic resonance to which the client can synchronize, thus bringing him or her to a deeper level of relaxation and wellness. To facilitate this process, it is especially important to understand the principles of resonance and entrainment. Practitioner and educator Jonathan Goldman describes resonance as “the frequency at which an object most naturally vibrates,” and notes that “every organ, bone and tissue in your body has its own separate resonant frequency. Together they make up a composite frequency, a harmonic that is your own personal vibratory rate” (Goldman, 1992). Entrainment is the process through which the resonant vibrations of one object bring a second object into synchrony with it. “With entrainment, a stronger external pulse does not just activate another pulse but actually causes the latter to move out of its own frequency to match it.” (Leeds, 2001) Following the “physics of entrainment”, such synchronization is most likely to occur in a therapeutic setting if the client is capable of receiving and matching the vibrations and the music is played in a consistent and rhythmic way with sufficient strength to alter the resonant vibrations of the client (Atwater, 1988).

    Recipients of VAHT often experience plucked notes in particular areas of their body, and these can change over the course of a therapeutic treatment. Chords often produce a stronger sensation and more entrainment. Sometimes vibration is only felt on one side of the body, and in these cases it is not uncommon for clients to regain sensations in the other side via the therapeutic process (Williams, 2005).

    For the current study, the researcher assembled a vibroacoustic device and conducted VAHT sessions with ten participants. In addition to learning from published materials by Sarajane Williams, he was influenced by Carl Rogers’ “client-centered” therapeutic approach. Rogers advocated for catering the therapeutic process to the needs of the individual being treated, since “it is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried" (Rogers, 1961). In this study, the comfort and preferences of the clients were considered in each step of the process. This is apparent in the following sections, particularly the Treatment Procedure section.
    Method

    The treatment procedure for this study was derived from VAHT sessions described in Williams’ textbook, “Good Vibrations: Principles of Vibroacoustic Harp”. Similarly, the subjective rating scale used in this study had been utilized in previous research demonstrating the beneficial effects of VAHT (Williams, 2005). The rating scale was used to record the difference in the “tension / pain” of participants’ pre- and post-treatment, defined in this case as “tension OR pain”, a combination of both conditions as experienced by the client.
    Participants

    Ten subjects were invited to participate in this study, all women ranging in age from mid-30’s to mid-60’s. They were friends and acquaintances of the researcher, and each had expressed interest in this therapeutic modality. The participants reported a variety of physical conditions or symptoms prior to their sessions, including muscle tension, Fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, and general body stiffness. None of the subjects had previously experienced VAHT.
    Equipment

    A 36-string Dusty Strings folk harp was used to deliver the sound to a Somatron vibrotactile mattress pad embedded in a “zero gravity” recliner chair. The sounds of the harp were picked up by a built-in microphone and amplified by a Fishman acoustic pre-amp prior to being sent to an AudioSource stereo power amplifier. An AudioSource graphic equalizer completed the setup by boosting the bass signals to enable them to produce sufficient vibration when sent to the vibrotactile device.
    Measures

    The participants’ levels of tension / pain were recorded using a subjective rating scale that had been validated by previous research studies. The scale allowed each client to assess her level of tension / pain on a scale of 0-9 in each of eleven areas of the body: 1) hands / arms; 2) face; 3) head; 4) neck; 5) shoulders; 6) back; 7) chest; 8) abdomen; 9) hips / thighs; 10) lower legs; and 11) feet. Additionally, each client was guided to take a measurement of her resting heart rate.

    The treatment methodology also included identifying which harp tones the participant experienced as pleasurable (see Step #9 below), and recording these in the session notes.
    Treatment Procedure

    For each participant, a 60-minute VAHT session was provided, consisting of the following progression of steps:

    1. Greet the client and establish rapport. “A therapeutic relationship is perhaps the most integral part of any therapy that is offered.” (Williams, 2005)
    2. Describe the history and applications of VAHT, and discuss how it might be helpful in treating the specific needs of the client. Answer any questions the client may have about the session.
    3. Briefly discuss the client’s medical history relevant to the VAHT session. Discuss conditions for which VAHT is contra-indicated, such as a history of seizure disorders, cardiovascular disorders, pacemakers, hypotension, extreme neurosis, psychosis, or active internal / external bleeding (other than menstruation).
    4. Provide for the comfort of the client, by offering tea or water, a blanket and/or eye mask during the session, pillows, tissues if needed, and the lighting of candles. Explain how to tilt back the recliner chair, and demonstrate this if necessary.
    5. Support the client’s safety by starting with the volume all the way DOWN on the amplifier that supplies sound to the vibroacoustic chair, before turning on the electronic equipment. Let the client know that he or she is welcome to stop or modify the session at any time.
    6. Measure the client’s pre-treatment levels of tension / pain on a 0-9 scale by asking him or her to assess this for each of these body areas: hands / arms, face, head, neck, shoulders, back, chest, abdomen, hips / thighs, lower legs, and feet. Assist the client in measuring their heart rate. Record these measurements in the session notes.
    7. Inquire about the client’s musical preferences, to better understand their relationship to sound, and for possible input into the harp playing in Step #11. Record these in the session notes.
    8. Establish the appropriate volume level for the client. Turn on the electronic equipment, and then ease the volume up to one-quarter while gently plucking the most resonant strings on the harp. Finally, allow the client to take over the controls and choose the desired volume (he or she can alter this at any time during the session).
    9. Test the suitability of each harp tone for the client, by plucking each string in the lowest octave of the harp from low-C to the next-highest-C, and asking the client how he or she feels about the tone, on a 5-point scale ranging from very positive to very negative. Record these preferences in the session notes.
    10. Facilitate initial relaxation. Spend a minute or so preparing the client to receive the vibroacoustic treatment, using a simple method such as sounding a crystal bowl, a guided breathing technique, or any other appropriate method.
    11. Improvise on the harp for 25-35 minutes, focusing primarily on the tones rated as neutral-to-very positive by the client. (Occasionally mix in other tones to support an integration of full-spectrum sound.) Play the music at a steady “meditative” pace, approximately 60 beats per minute. Before beginning, let the client know that the ringing of a small chime will indicate that the harp playing has completed.
    12. Signal the completion of the improvisation. Let the client know that he or she can take their time in returning to full consciousness and opening their eyes.
    13. Allow the client to debrief the experience, and listen actively and reflectively. Answer any questions as necessary. “Be open and prepared to deal psychologically with whatever information is released” (Williams, 1993).
    14. Measure the client’s post-treatment levels of tension / pain on a 0-9 scale by asking him or her to assess this for each of the body areas outlined in Step #6.
    15. Let the client know that the session is complete. Thank him or her for their participation.
    Results

    The average post-treatment levels of participants’ tension / pain were 49.9% lower than the pre-treatment levels. Using a two-tailed t-test to analyze this result produced p=0.0001, indicating a statistically significant reduction in tension / pain level. Participants experienced the greatest decrease in tension / pain in their feet (66.7%), followed by the head (62.9%), face (61.8%), shoulders (59.7%), and back (53.0%). The average client reduction in tension / pain was at least 36.7% in all of the body areas, and only one client experienced less than a 39.2% decrease.

    The participants’ average post-treatment heart rate (64.0 bpm) was 10.5% lower than the pre-treatment heart rate (71.1 bpm). Using a paired t-test to analyze this result produced p=0.002, indicating a statistically significant reduction in average heart rate.

    The participants experienced the low-C tone as the most pleasurable (38% above neutral), followed by next-highest-C (27%), D (25%), F (18%), and G (17%). The tone rated least pleasurable was E (5% below neutral), and it was the only tone rated below neutral.
    Discussion
    Reducing Tension / Pain

    The results strongly indicate that the Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy sessions were successful in reducing the levels of tension / pain in the study participants, thus supporting the primary hypothesis. Only one of the ten participants had a decrease of less than 39.2%, and even that person did experience a reduction (15.8%). Among the body regions most affected by the therapy, the feet had the greatest reduction in tension / pain. Here are some of the terms that participants used to describe their feet after the treatment: “lighter”, “less congested”, “melancholy”, and “a palpable feeling of energy moving.” The other highly-affected body regions were consistent with the results of previous VAHT studies (head, face, shoulders, and back).

    The success of these sessions in reducing the levels of tension / pain was most likely due to a combination of factors involved in the treatment process, including the comfortable recliner chair, soft lighting, initial relaxation, harp playing based on individual note preferences, resonance of the vibroacoustic mattress pad, and debriefing at the end of the treatment. In this case the process was standardized to provide a consistent experience for the participants, but in clinical treatments some of the elements could be varied according to the needs of individual clients. A good approach might be to have a standard framework for the sessions, while allowing for adjustments or variations to be made at the time of treatment.

    The conditions for the first two sessions were a little different than the following eight, as the therapeutic process was being refined. A new, more comfortable recliner chair was purchased after the first session, and a dimmer switch was installed after the second (to produce softer overhead lighting). These changes were guided by client feedback, which enabled the therapeutic setting and process to be catered to current and future clients.

    Lowering Heart Rate

    The typical adult resting heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute, and in this study the participants’ average heart rate was reduced from the middle of this range (71.1 bpm) to near the bottom (64.0 bpm). A heart rate of 60 bpm or below is typical of a highly relaxed or meditative state, and from these results it could be inferred that the clients’ heart rates entrained to the 60 bpm meditative music being played during their sessions. It seems that the prerequisites for the “physics of entrainment” were met, as the clients were able to synchronize and the music was rhythmic and strong enough to lead them to entrain to its pace.

    Tone Preferences

    The most favorable tones experienced by the participants in this study were the low- and next-higher-C. As clients typically enjoy the lower, more vibratory tones as experienced through the vibroacoustic device, it makes sense that they would prefer the low-C tone, which produces the greatest vibration. However, the likeability of the next-highest-C tone suggests the presence of other factors, since this was the highest and presumably least vibratory tone in the rated spectrum. The next most highly rated tones were D (the second note in the C scale), F (fourth), and G (fifth). A possible explanation for this pattern of tone preferences has esoteric origins. Researcher Wilfried Krüger found that “one of the deepest secrets of the Pythagorean secret teachings, the sacred Tetraktys … comprised the four intervals of the octave, fifth, fourth, and second, according to whose governing laws … the life of the world and creation itself unfolds” (Hamel, 1976). This is an interesting interpretation that warrants further exploration.

    Subjective Responses

    A variety of subjective responses were expressed by the study participants, including some of the most common responses from a previous study: localized tension reduction; overall relaxation; increased body awareness, sensation, and tingling; feeling restored and nurtured; positive imagery and associations; and affective release including tears and laughter (Williams, 2000). One participant experienced the high tones on the harp as “summery” with “birds and butterflies” while feeling that the low notes provided grounding, bringing her “right down into the Earth.” Another saw “soft, curvy lines” of blue, green, and purple. Yet another felt “cooler in [her] shoulders” after the treatment. Some participants expressed feelings of oneness, such as “that feeling of being part of everything – as the music is vibrating within you.” Another described the experience as “vibration so palpable that it reminds you that you are more than this body – a comfortable, loving vibration to sink into.” Similarly, one person felt “a sense of confidence in the universe – that everything is going to come out all right.” Such responses are consistent with Sarajane Williams’ observation that “when the client is flooded with vibratory stimulation, he/she becomes relaxed, abstract thinking slows, and awareness expands” (Williams, 2005). Or as Guided Imagery and Music therapist Carol Bush suggests, “Through contact with significant material and the emotional release that is made possible [by listening to music], a renewed sense of rejuvenation and hope is often felt” (Bush, 1995).

    Implications for Therapeutic Practice

    The current study suggests that Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy can be effective at reducing the tension or pain of clients for whom it is provided. Beyond this, the possibilities for VAHT are highly promising, especially in the area of holistic health. As Olav Skille said, “We can say that the low frequencies massage the body and that music is massaging the soul. In VAT both the well and ill parts of the body receive the same stimuli – in this way we try to create total harmony in body and soul” (Williams, 1997). Indeed, the vibrations of music and sound operate on many levels when delivered through a vibroacoustic treatment, and affect both the client and the practitioner. Although the practice of VAHT has been occurring since 1990, in many ways practitioners have only just begun to tap the wellspring of holistic possibilities.

    Here are some of the ways in which this researcher could expand his approach to Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy: 1) continue to develop and refine the therapeutic process using a client-centered approach; 2) incorporate theoretical models into the treatment process, such as the chakras, Chinese 5-element system, energy meridians, Reiki, and resonant frequencies of various organs and systems of the body; 3) explore the effects of various tones or intervals on health and wellness; and 4) explore the role of consciousness in the treatment process, since sound is a “carrier wave of consciousness” (Goldman quoting Steven Halpern, 1992).

    Future Research

    The current study could be expanded or new VAHT research ideas generated by making the following modifications: 1) utilize larger sample sizes, with both women and men as participants; 2) distinguish tension and pain as individual variables with separate treatment goals; 3) utilize control groups to isolate the factors involved in the treatment efficacy (e.g. live music vs. recorded music, music vs. no music, or music with vibroacoustics vs. music without vibroacoustics); 4) develop increasingly creative and effective ways to gather and categorize subjective results; and 5) develop and utilize other objective measurements, such as blood pressure and brainwave activity.

    Publishing therapeutic results is important both in building a public awareness of vibroacoustic therapies and in further developing their effectiveness. Perhaps Olav Skille said it best, exhorting vibroacoustic practitioners to “publish your experiences! Remember, all data are valuable in order to let us see the overall picture of how music will influence our physical and mental well-being” (Williams, 1997).

    References

    Aragon, D., Farris, C., & Byers, J. (2002). The effects of harp music in vascular and thoracic surgical patients. Alternative Therapies, 8(5), 52-60.

    Atwater, F.H. (1988). The Monroe Institute’s hemi-synch process: A theoretical perspective. Faber, VA: The Monroe Institute.

    Briggs, T. (2003). Live harp music reduces anxiety of patients hospitalized with cancer, The Harp Therapy Journal, 1, 4, 15.

    Bush, C.A. (1995). Healing Imagery & Music: Pathways to the Inner Self. Portland, OR: Rudra Press.

    Dallas-Feeney, S. (2004). Pilot study demonstrates positive effects of vibroacoustic harp therapy on heart rate variability. The Harp Therapy Journal, 9(1), 1, 4, 6-7, 9.

    Gerber, R. (2001). Vibrational Medicine, Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company.

    Goldman, J. (1992). Healing Sounds, Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

    Hamel, P.M. (1976). Through Music to the Self. Berne, Munich & Vienna: Scherz Verlag.

    Leeds, J. (2001). The Power of Sound, Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

    Rogers, C. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist's view of psychotherapy. London: Constable.

    Williams, S. (1993). Harp Therapy: A Psychoacoustic Approach to Treating Pain and Stress, The American Harp Journal, vol.14, no. 2.

    Williams, S. (1997). Interview with Olav Skille, The Harp Therapy Journal, 2(1), 8-10, 14.

    Williams, S. (2005). Good Vibrations: Principles of Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy. Macungie, PA: Silva Vocat Music.

    Williams, S. (2000). Subjective Responses to Vibroacoustic Therapy. The Harp Therapy Journal, Fall Issue.

  • NIH Report

    Effects of Vibroacoustic Music on Symptom Reduction in Hospitalized Patients

    by Tim Hulley, M.A., C.M.P.

    Visual Analog Pre-Post Percentage Difference

      Mean % of symptom reduction # of patients in each study
    Total 53.04 267
    Depression 45.33 18
    Tension & Anxiety 54.59 74
    Pain 51.18 46
    Headache 59.79 24
    Nausea 59.13 16
    Other 56.11 29
    September 1997

    ProgramEvaluation Vibroacoustic Network Respondents:

    "Our program evaluation at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health has given us enough data to suggest a series of research protocols that we (four of us who use the acoustic recliners daily with our wide variety of patients) will be laying out in the next few months.  So far, with N=190, we have seen statistically significant and clinically significant results in both tension-anxiety reduction as well as symptom reduction.  We have revised our simple patient reported session evaluation form as attached.  The data has been broken down into diagnostic groups (all chronic disease processes: cancer, AIDS, heart and lung, blood, and psychiatric disorders are the main groups), with no noticeable drop off in reported effectiveness by group.  The results are not publishable since we did not do a randomized clinical trial, only simple program evaluation project.  But we are VERY encouraged by the data."


    November, 1997

    Effects of Vibroacoustic Music on Symptom Reduction in Hospitalized Patients Brief description:

    Patients experiencing a variant of symptoms were offered vibroacoustic music.   Patient report of both state of relaxation and symptom intensity were collected before and after the 40 minute session.  This program evaluation has provided information with which to develop a research plan.


    Abstract

    The need for hospitalized patients to experience the relaxation response as an antidote to the stress of treatment and adjustment to the possibility of chronic or life threatening conditions is clear.  The systematic application of music to promote positive changes in behavior has been used successfully in a variety of hospital settings.  The effectiveness of music interventions has been measured physiologically and behaviorally.

    In order to provide patients with assistance in achieving a relaxation response, recreation therapists at a major research hospital created several relaxation opportunities for patients and their family members.   Among them are a weekly class, "The Art of Relaxation."  This class is both didactic and experiential.  Held in a patient lounge, it can accommodate up to nine individuals.  The content includes a short introduction, an explanation of four components of relaxation (from Benson), and examples of short form relaxation techniques (i.e. eye roll-sigh).  This is followed by a 15-20 minute experiential session using one of the following techniques:  progressive relaxation, guided imagery, rhythmic breathing, body scan, or autogenic training.The recreation therapists also created a relaxation room with four Somatrons, a commercially available vibroacoustic recliner.  The Somatrons deliver ear level stereo auditory and tactile vibrations that allow the body to feel the music that is normally only heard.  Patients can access an initial session in the relaxation room using Therasound music titled "Balance" designed or its anxiolytic properties.

    Subsequent uses of the relaxation room have used either "Balance" or music from "The Musical Body" (Therasound).  In all cases, this is a therapist guided session with about 10 minutes of debriefing after the music.This presentation of the program evaluation data from the use of the vibroacoustic recliners with anxiolytic music gathered from 268 adult patients with varying diagnoses over the last 17 months.  The measures were patient self-report instruments completed immediately pre and post to assess symptom intensity and relaxation.  Symptoms, up to three, were identified by the patients.  Symptom intensity was measured on a visual analogue scale.  Relaxation was measured seven item Self-Report Rating Scale for Tension and Relaxation (Poppen, 1988, p.126).The results follow.  The most frequently identified symptoms were tension-anxiety (73), pain (67), fatigue (62), nausea (27), headache (23), and depression (15) which comprised 92% of the first symptoms mentioned.  (Note: patients could state up to three symptoms and rate each,  But this report analyzed only the first mentioned symptom.)  Each of these symptoms showed reduction in intensity based on pre-post mean scores.  Cumulatively, the pre rating mean was 67.20 (of 100) and the post rating mean was 31.55, a 53% reduction of symptoms.  The most frequently self-reported symptoms that were reduced included tension-anxiety (p <.001), pain (p <.0001), fatigue (p <.0001), nausea (p <.0005), headache (p <.0001), and depressed mood (p<.0004).  The intensity of symptoms was reduced from pre to post by following percentages:  tension-anxiety, 54.65%; pain, 58.31%; fatigue, 46.63%; nausea, 56.44%; headache, 51.64%; and depressed mood, 46.63%.

    To measure the state of relaxation, the seven point Self-Report Rating Scale for Tension and Relaxation was used.  With an N=272, the pre rating was 5.12(5 is "Feeling Some Tension in Some Parts of My Body") while the post rating was 2.77 (3 is "Feeling More Relaxed Than Usual"), a statistically significant difference (p<.0001).  Although this scale is nominal, tests of fit allow for estimation of effective improvement of 33.4% in state of relaxation.

    Clinical impressions of the group of five recreation therapists were commensurate with the statistical significance levels indicated.   Most patients were buoyed by having a perceived effect on their symptom burden.   We used this positive outcome to point out that patients could clearly benefit by regular practice of an effective relaxation technique.  They were given additional training in the "Art of Relaxation" class, through individual instruction, or by readings.

    This program evaluation data was not a research study.  It did not use random assignment, control group, or a comparison group.   Nonetheless, it did generate enough data to suggest the worthiness of writing a research plan for several sequential research protocols.  Our group of recreation therapists have decided to continue focus on symptom reduction.  We will measure the duration of the symptom intensity reduction beyond the vibroacoustic session.   Furthermore, we will be comparing subsequent sessions to see whether the treatment effect is as robust with additional treatment.  We have done preliminary analyses by diagnosis and see a different set of symptoms per diagnosis so we will continue to collect data based on diagnosis.  We are considering what could constitute an adequate control group (e.g., no treatment, music with no tactile input, different kinds of music, music of choice vs. prescribed music).  How does vibroacoustic music compare with the other relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation, autogenic training, mindfulness meditation, and guided imagery?  In addition, what should be the research participant inclusion criteria?  Should there be a minimum baseline of perceived tension-relaxation or symptom intensity? And finally, which study should come first and what is a proper sequencing so that a cluster of studies could be done in such a way as to build a body of knowledge around vibroacoustic music as a developing technology?


    "The recliners referred to in this study are four Somatron Professional Power Models.  NIH also has Somatron mats in daily use."

    Byron Eakin, Somatron Corporation

  • IEE Engineering In Medicine and Biology

     

    “Good, good, good, good vibrations.”

    .. proclaimed the Beach Boys in both words and vibrant harmony. As with most of their music, the simple lyrics are outweighed by harmonic message. Still, their teenaged composer and lyricist, Brian Wilson, was inspired by why dogs barked at specific people and why certain girls emanated exciting vibrations (“excitations”). Music and vibration would appear to be far from the concerns of human adaptation, but surprise has always been a driver of scientific investigation.

    The need for hospitalized patients to experience the relaxation response as an antidote to the stress of treatment and adjustment to the possibility of chronic or life-threatening conditions is clear. The systematic application of music to promote positive changes in behavior has been used successfully in a variety of hospital settings. The effectiveness of music interventions in stress management has been measured physiologically and behaviorally.

    This present study extends previous research by describing the outcome of a recreation therapy program of Vibroacoustic music (VAM) offered to hospitalized patients. In order to provide patients with assistance in achieving the relaxation response, recreation therapists at a major federal research hospital created several relaxation opportunities for patients and family members. Included in these opportunities were classes in:

    • Relaxation techniques (instruction in progressive relaxation, guided imagery, autogenic training, rhythmic breathing, light exercise and mindfulness meditation);
    • Tai chi;
    • Group meditation
    • Other focus activities (i.e. exercise, arts, and crafts)

    In addition, the recreation therapists created a relaxation room, equipped with four Somatrons, which is commercially available Vibroacoustic Music Recliner delivering ear-level stereo sound and tactile vibrations that allow the body to feel the music that is normally only heard. Patients can access an initial session in the relaxation room using anxiolytically designed (relaxing) music titled “Balance.” Subsequent uses of the relaxation room have employed either “Balance” or music from “The Musical Body” (Therasound). In all cases, the relaxation room is a recreation therapist-guided session with a 10-minute introduction, 25 minutes of music/vibration, and about 10 minutes of debriefing (a total of 45 minutes per session).

    The researcher and colleagues were surprised at patients reporting that they received unintended (and unadvertised) symptomatic relief as a result of VAM. These unsolicited testimonials led the program evaluation to include a measure of patient symptoms in both pre and post VAM sessions. Method (Sampling Procedure)

    A program evaluation yielded data from the use of these VAM recliners with anxiolytic music gathered from 272 adult patients in a major research hospital. This was a convenience sample of those who came to the relaxation room. Patients were recruited by several methods; physician referral, patient response to recreation therapist recommendation, or patient response to information about the relaxation room (printed materials and word of mouth from other patients). These patients had varying diagnoses; cancer (97); heart, lung, and blood disorders (55); infectious disease (54); mood disorders (32); and miscellaneous conditions (34). Their ages ranged from 21 to 67, with an average age of 43.7 years. Females made up 53% of the sample. Again, this study reports a program evaluation. As such, no effort was made to develop a meaningful control group.


    Measurements and Variables

    Data were gathered from two patient self-report instruments, completed immediately before and after the VAM session. State of relaxation was measured by selecting one of seven statements from the “Self-Report Rating Scale for Tension and Relaxation” asking “Which of the following best describes the way you feel right now?”

    1. Feeling more deeply and completely relaxed than I ever have.
    2. Feeling completely relaxed throughout my entire body.
    3. Feeling more relaxed than usual.
    4. Feeling generally tense throughout my body.
    5. Feeling relaxed as in my normal resting state.
    6. Feeling extremely tense and upset throughout my body.
    7. Feeling some tension in some parts of my body.

    All 272 patients completed this Self-Report Rating Scale for Tension and Relaxation. It was used as a comparative value for the symptom intensity, visual analog scale.

    Because this study attempted to track whatever symptoms patients were experiencing at the moment before the VAM session, the open-ended questions asked of them were: “What symptom(s) are you experiencing now?” and “At what level of intensity?”. Up to three symptoms were requested from our patients, and they were asked to place a hash mark on a visual analog scale (VAS) to rate the intensity of each particular symptom. The line was anchored at its ends by the printed phases “not at all” and “very much.” Some chose no symptoms.

    The pre-post data set afforded a between-groups analysis among the dependent variables. To analyze the results, we employed a paired t-test to determine the probability of the changes in pre versus post differences.

    Results (Descriptive Findings)

    To measure the state of relaxation, the seven point Self-Report Rating Scale for Tension and Relaxation was used. With N=272, the pre rating was 5.12 (5 is “Feeling Some Tension in Some Parts of My Body”) while the post rating was 2.77 (3 is “Feeling More Relaxed Than Usual”), a statistically significant difference. Although this scale is ordinal, anchored with descriptive language (categorically ordered), the Bartlett’s test of fit allowed for an estimation of effective improvement of 33.4% in state of relaxation.

    Aggregation of the symptom data showed an average participant pre (VAS) rating of 67.20 (of 100) and a post rating of 31.55, a 53% reduction in cumulated symptoms. Only the first (of up to three) symptoms was analyzed in this program evaluation to simplify the data displayed here. The most frequently identified symptoms were tension-anxiety, pain fatigue, nausea, headache, and depression, which comprised 92% of the symptoms mentioned. The post rating was done at the end of the VAM session in order to determine the perceived effect in order to determine the perceived effect of the session on the symptom and to reduce the influence of other variables. Each of these symptoms showed reduction in intensity based on pre-post mean scores. The intensity of symptoms was reduced from pre to post by the following percentages; nausea 61%; headache, 58%; tension-anxiety, 54%; pain, 53%; depressed mood, 49% and fatigue, 47%. A one-sample t-test (pre-post) was performed and all the results were statistically significant at P<.0001.
    Discussion

    Date were not analyzed by diagnostic group for purposes of this study. An inspection of the patient-reported symptoms showed that such symptoms frequently were not associated with the disease, only occasionally associated with the treatment (i.e. nausea from chemotherapy), and were clustered under what could be called psychosocial stress (a result of disease, hospitalization, and experimental treatment) secondary to primary diagnosis. Since both the room and program name were titled “relaxation,” the author felt that changes in self-reported symptom intensity would be far from “leading” (not telling us what they thought we wanted to hear). Still, patients seemed to find a way to give us answers we wanted to receive. That kind of willingness, plus the nonrandom selection and lack of control group, should give rise to suspicion as to our results.

    This program evaluation data yielded descriptive information showing symptom reduction over the period of a single 45-minute VAM session. Having conceived this program evaluation as an initial exploration, the researcher offered no initial hypotheses. The robustness of these salutary results, however, affords the opportunity to at least speculate on what might be going on during VAM.

    The power of the relaxation response may yet to be fully documented. Hypnotic trance states have been used to help patients successfully through difficult medical procedures, such as surgery, with considerable less post-surgical complications and reduced recovery time. The whole area of mind-body medicine struggles with hypothesis development that requires an expanded view of reciprocal causation in the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

    Another speculation offered is the role of the placebo effect and positive expectations. Our focus on the relaxation response (name of the room, program name, and asking for relaxation ratings) was helpful in minimizing any expectation for symptom reduction. Still many patients are given to please their caretakers and we might well have measured a response bias. The placebo effect has been measured as strong as 30 – 60%. It is clearly a real effect and ought to be optimized rather than ruled out. Even double-blind, random selection studies are unable to factor out the placebo effect; therefore, we acknowledge and embrace this limitation.

    The focus of this study touches on the role of music/vibration in human adaptation. In some way, music/vibration of certain frequencies, intensities, rhythms, etc., might be implicated in the body’s regulatory mechanisms. In general, most hospitalized patients could benefit from some form of down-regulation of “sympathetic tone” (an interesting phrase in this discussion). The researcher entertains the notion that multiple mechanisms of the body may use music/vibration to regain a healthy homeostasis. Indeed, Chesky has suggested that pacinian corpuscles, excited by vibrations of certain frequencies, may mediate pain and other noxious stimuli.

    Disease can be seen as the inability of the human organism to cope with or handle disturbances insulting to its homeostatic systems. The science of medicine is being reshaped by the role of molecular messengers that communicate to regulatory mechanisms in ways that are well beyond our understanding of the “hard-wired” nervous system. The blood-brain barrier has become about as relevant as the Berlin wall. If the super-high-frequency vibrations of light effect our mood states and biological time clocks, how far afield is it to suspect that music and vibration (at much lower frequencies) have effects on psycho-neurophysiology?

    In the future, when this program evaluation develops into a more carefully conceived research study, with attention to patient selection and assignment, an attempt at a control condition, and a range of calibrated dosage levels, our research team will be in a better position to make stronger claims generalizability. Nonetheless, sufficient data were generated to indicate that many patients using VAM experienced a deep relaxation response and reduced their symptom burden. Clinical impressions by the group of five recreation therapists were commensurate with the statistical significance reported. Having some personal control of their symptom burden pleased most patients. This positive outcome was used to point out that patients could clearly benefit by regular practice of an effective relaxation technique. Patients were given additional training in the “Art of Relaxation; class, through individual instruction, or by readings.


    Conclusions

    The present results suggest the value of using VAM to induce the relaxation response in order to reduce the symptom burden of hospitalized patients. These findings point to an avenue of future research using careful selection assignment, controls, variable dosage, and longer follow-up periods to test the durability of VAM interventions. Perhaps Brian Wilson was more right than he knew when he recommended that we would do well to “Keep good vibrations a happenin’ to me.”

    Symptom (N)
    Pre
    SD
    Post
    SD
    % Diff
    P
    Tension (74)
    67.9
    19.9
    31.2
    19.9
    54.00
    < .0001
    Fatigue (60)
    72.2
    17.5
    38.0
    22.6
    47.36
    < .0001
    Pain (46)
    65.0
    20.3
    30.3
    18.1
    63.33
    < .0001
    Headache(24)
    60.5
    20.8
    25.7
    19.9
    57.64
    < .0001
    Depression(18)
    71.0
    19.8
    35.9
    19.3
    49.45
    < .0001
    Nausea (16)
    67.3
    20.7
    26.3
    50.5
    60.97
    < .0001
    Other (29)
    62.0
    19.4
    27.1
    22.5
    56.27
    < .0001
    Combined(267)
    67.2
    19.7
    31.5
    20.7
    53.04
    < .0001
    Table 1. Symptom Change from a Single VAM Session

    Acknowledgment

    The author wishes to acknowledge assistance in data collection and clinical expertise of the following recreation therapists who, with him, run the relaxation room: Sharon Ballard, Jane Ganz, Cindy White, Linda Scimeca, and Jim Ebel. Mark Mattiko helped with data analysis. George Patrick serves as chief of recreation therapy in the Rehabilitation Medicine Department, Clinical Center, of the National Institutes of Health. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. His professional career as a recreation therapist spans five states and a wide variety of clients. Dr. Patrick plays golf, rides a sport motorcycle, serves food to the homeless in Washington, DC, and is enjoying grand fatherhood. With his wife, Jane, he enjoys music of the National Symphony and sings in a church choir.

    Address for Correspondence:
    Dr. George Patrick, NIH, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1950, Bethesda, MD 20892
    Telephone: 301-496-2278, Fax. 301-402-2388, E-mail: george_patrick@nih.gov

     

  • Autism

     

    "Use of the Somatron with Seventeen Students of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Autistic Program"

    Source:
    Unpublished paper

    Location:
    Allegheny Intermediate Unit Autistic Program

    Date: April

    Contact Information:
    Linda L. Sanders, RMT-BC
    Autistic Program/Exceptional Children's Program
    21 Moffett Street
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


    This paper provides a summary of observations during a six week period of using a Somatron chair with twenty students enrolled a special education program for autistic children. Each student was provided with a 5-15 minute Somatron session and was observed both before and after the session by staff members at the school. Staff recorded whether or not each child was attending to a task, completed a task, gave eye contact to the teacher, remained in their seat, and refrained from participating in self-stimulatory behavior. When a child was successful in one of the areas being observed, it was recorded as a “positive factor” (+). When a child was unsuccessful in one of the areas being observed, it was recorded as a “negative factor” (-). The total number of positive and negative factors observed both before and after each of the Somatron sessions were calculated. Overall, it was found that the number of positive factors observed increased, and the number of negative factors decreased after the use of the Somatron.

    Autistic Services Incorporated


    Type of Facility:
    Facility serving Autistic Individuals

    Population using the Somatron:
    Individuals diagnosed with Autism

    Primary Findings:
    Universal Success of the Somatron, reduced muscle tension and anxiety, stimulation of circulation, reduction in gastrointestinal problems, and success in screening out upsetting sounds.

    Contact Information:
    Tom Sinica
    Autistic Services
    169 Sheridan Parkside Drive
    Tonawanda, NY 14150
    Phone: 716-873-6997


    A grant received by Erie County Legislator, Lynn Marinelli, provided an opportunity for the Occupational Therapy department of Autistic Services to purchase a Somatron chair to use with their clients. The clinical director of Autistic Services, Mr. Tom Sinica values the chair because of its universal benefits including the fact that it can be enjoyed by both adult and children alike. The Somatron is used with clients during the course of supervised Occupational Therapy. The benefits gained from using the Somatron chair with the clients at Autistic Services are reported to include the relief of muscle tension, the stimulation of circulation, the diminishing of gastrointestinal problems, reductions in anxiety and success in screening out sounds that may otherwise be upsetting to the clients. Mr. Sinica made the following comments and observations about the new Somatron chair, “This is a calming experience. I can see visible differences in the people using it. They leave smiling, happy and better able to participate when they return to their classrooms.”

     

  • Medical Proceedures

    "The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Vibrotactile Stimulation, via a Somatron, on Patients Awaiting Scheduled Gynecological Surgery"

    Source:
    Published Journal Article adapted from Masters Thesis
    Journal of Music Therapy, XXXIII (4), 1996, p. 261-287

    Location:
    Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center
    Under the supervision of Dr. Jayne Standley
    Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

    Date: 1995

    Contact Information:
    Catherine L.W. Szuch, MM, MT-BC
    Research conducted under the name of Catherine L. Walters
    919-479-3292
    Thirty-nine women admitted to a medical facility for day case gynecological surgery participated in this study. Some of the women had opportunities to use a portable Somatron mat, using music that reflected their musical taste, immediately prior to having their surgery. Other women had opportunities to listen to the same music via a tape player immediately prior to having their surgery.

    Both the women using the Somatron and the women listening to music via the tape player were found to spend less time in surgery than expected, less time in the post-anesthesia care unit, and received less post-operative medication than similar women who did not receive a musical intervention of any kind. These findings were all statistically significant (p<0.05). The same women also had a tendency for lower blood pressure following their musical experiences although this finding was not statistically significant.

    The women who used the Somatron were found to experience lower reported apprehension (defined as combined ratings of their tension, anxiety, relaxation, stress, and mood) following its use than either the women who listened to music via a tape player, or the women who did not experience either.

    This finding was also statistically significant (p<0.05). The women who used the Somaton were also found to have the least fluctuation in blood pressure throughout their surgery. Women rated their experiences with the Somatron positively stating that it “increased relaxation”, “helped to ease anxiety”, and provided a distraction resulting in “less time to focus on the surgical procedure”.

    "Music Therapy Following Suctioning: Four Case Studies"

    Source:
    Published Journal Article
    Neonatal Network - Journal of Neonatal Nursing
    October, 1995, Vol. 14 (7), p. 41-49

    Location:
    Duke University Medical Center
    Durham, North Carolina

    Date: October, 1995

    Contact Information: Martha A. Burke, MA MT-BC
    Center for Music Therapy Research
    mburke@geeksnet.com
    Four prematurely born infants who required ventilation assistance at a medical facility for breathing (due to a diagnosis of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia) were provided with 15 minute vibrotactile Somatron sessions, 15 minute non-vibrotactile music listening sessions, and 15 minute sessions of no interaction or stimulation following necessary suctioning procedures. The researchers found that music used both vibrotactily via the Somatron and non-vibrotactily via a stereo was beneficial to the infants in the following ways; 1) the infants spent more time in a well-oxygenated state, 2) the infants spent less time in a highly agitated state, 3) the infants spent more time sleeping. In addition, vibrotactile stimulation via the Somatron appeared to result in the infants spending longer periods of time in a “quiet alert state”. A quiet alert state is reportedly rarely seen in infants but is desirable because it promotes “autonomic stability” within the body. This allows calories to be conserved for growth and healing as well as improves the body’s oxygenation. The researchers described this outcome as “an unexpected and positive finding”.

  • Psychological Well-Being

     

    "Music and its Effects on Mood"

    Source:
    Unpublished research completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for BA Program

    Location:
    Florida State University
    Under the supervision of the Center for Music Research
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Date: 1993

    Contact Information:
    Catherine L.W. Szuch, MM, MT-BC
    (Research conducted under the name of Catherine L. Walters)
    (919) 479-3292

    This study looked at the mood of twenty-nine college students before and after they experienced one of three current popular songs, 1) “Vibeology” by Paula Abdul, 2)
    “So Hard to Say Goodbye” by Boys 2 Men, and 3) “Songbird” by Kenny G, either vibrotactily via a Somatron or non-vibrotactily via a stereo system. All participants rated their mood using the Multiple Affect Adjective Check List (MAACL). The author found that the students who used the Somatron reported a greater general improvement in their positive mood state after experiencing the music than similar students who experienced the same music via a stereo system. This finding was statistically significant (p<0.001) for the song “So Hard to Say Goodbye. Similarly, students that were presented with the Kenny G selection via the Somatron reported feeling a greater reduction in depression following the experience than those experiencing the same music via a stereo system. This finding was also statistically significant (p<0.05). It appeared that the vibrotactile experience of the Somatron affected the mood state of college students in an overall more positive way than when the same songs were experienced via a stereo system. When asked, the vast majority of the students said that they enjoyed their experiences with the Somatron, would repeat it if they had the opportunity, and would recommend it to others. In addition, the students generally felt that it enhanced their experience of the particular song that they heard.

    "The Effect of Vibrotactile Stimuli and Selected Music on Mood Descriptors Chosen by Music Majors"

    Source:
    Unpublished Research Paper

    Location:
    University of Kansas
    Psychology of Music Laboratory

    Contact Information:
    Rebecca A. Lord

    This study looked at the effects of vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron on the mood of college-age music students. Sixteen to twenty students participated in this research, half of whom listened to a selection of music while sitting in a chair that faced 2 speakers, the other half experienced the same music while lying on a Somatron. All students rated their mood both before and after the music was played. The test used to measure mood (Multiple Affect Adjective Check List (MAACL)) measured levels of anxiety, depression, hostility and also provided a total mood score. The students that used the Somatron reported a decrease in the number of negative mood responses at the end of their vibrotactile experience. The differences between the two groups of students were found to be statistically significant for both depression and total overall mood scores (p<0.05). The researcher concluded that “vibrotactile stimulation and selected music does have an effect on mood descriptors chosen by music majors”.

    "The Effect of Vibrotactile Stimuli on Subject's Descriptive Responses for Familiar and Unfamiliar Music and Preferences for Music Listening Conditions"

    Source:
    Location: University of Kansas
    Psychology of Music Laboratory

    Contact Information:
    Dianne Burton

    This research was carried out to look at the effects of vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron on the words chosen by students to describe both familiar and unfamiliar pieces of music. Thirty psychology students participated in two separate music listening sessions. During one of these sessions, music was played via a stereo under “normal listening conditions”, during the other session, the same music was experienced via a Somatron mattress. The researchers found that the students preferred the experience of using the Somatron over hearing the same music under “normal listening conditions”. It was also found that the music that was unfamiliar to students was described differently when experienced via the Somatron when compared to “normal listening conditions”. The level of bass recognized by students in the various pieces of music appeared to have an effect on the particular words chosen by the students to describe it. This finding was statistically significant.

    "The Effects of a Vibrotactile Device, Somatron, on Physiological and Psychological Responses: Musicians versus Non-Musicians"

    Source: Published Journal Article
    Location: Florida State University
    Tallahassee, FL
    Center for Music Research
    Date: 1990
    Contact Information: Dr. Clifford K. Madsen, Dr. Jayne M. Standley, and Dianne Gregory
    Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

    This research consisted of two studies that compared the responses of musicians and non-musicians to music experienced via a Somatron. During the first study, all participants (college students) were presented with two pieces of music, one simulative in nature, the other sedative. For half of the subjects, the speed of the music was altered gradually becoming either faster or slower. None of these participants, regardless of their musical background, reported being aware of the change. All students had their heart rate monitored during their session however, no statistically significant differences in the heart rate of musicians or non musicians were found. Students did report that they liked the experience and that they would repeat it in the future if given the opportunity. Some of them reported that they did not want to get up once the music was over. The students also reported that they found the experience to be both stimulating and relaxing at the same time. The second study was almost exactly the same as the first however, this time those participants who were going to experience the music with altered speed, were warned that something would be changing. Despite this preparation, the students were still not able to correctly identify what was different about their experience

    "The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Vibrotactile Stimulation, via a Somatron, on Patients Awaiting Scheduled Gynecological Surgery"

    Source: Published Journal Article adapted from Masters Thesis
    Journal of Music Therapy, XXXIII (4), 1996, p. 261-287)
    Location: Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center
    Under the supervision of Dr. Jayne Standley
    Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
    Date: 1995
    Contact Information: Catherine L.W. Szuch, MM, MT-BC
    (Research conducted under the name of Catherine L. Walters)
    (919) 479-3292

    Thirty-nine women admitted to a medical facility for day case gynecological surgery participated in this study. Some of the women had opportunities to use a portable Somatron mat, using music that reflected their musical taste, immediately prior to having their surgery. Other women had opportunities to listen to the same music via a tape player immediately prior to having their surgery. Both the women using the Somatron and the women listening to music via the tape player were found to spend less time in surgery than expected, less time in the post-anesthesia care unit, and received less post-operative medication than similar women who did not receive a musical intervention of any kind. These findings were all statistically significant (p<0.05). The same women also had a tendency for lower blood pressure following their musical experiences although this finding was not statistically significant. The women who used the Somatron were found to experience lower reported apprehension (defined as combined ratings of their tension, anxiety, relaxation, stress, and mood) following its use than either the women who listened to music via a tape player, or the women who did not experience either. This finding was also statistically significant (p<0.05). The women who used the Somatron were also found to have the least fluctuation in blood pressure throughout their surgery. Women rated their experiences with the Somatron positively stating that it “increased relaxation”, “helped to ease anxiety”, and provided a distraction resulting in “less time to focus on the surgical procedure”.

     

  • MR/DD

    "The Effect of Vibrotactile Stimulation, Instrumentation, and Precomposed Melodies on Physiological and Behavioral Responses of Profoundly Retarded Children and Adults"

    Source: Published Journal Article
    Journal of Music Therapy, XXXIX (3), 1994, p. 186-205

    Location: Tallahassee, Florida

    Contact Information:
    Ms. Kelley Kruse Pujol
    212 Standifer Avenue
    Ruston, LA 71270

    The aim of this research study was to look at vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron, different musical instruments and pre-composed melodies on physiological and behavioral responses of profoundly retarded children and adults. Fifteen individuals between the ages of six and fourty-six participated in the study. The researchers looked at the respiration, pulse rate, eye movements, facial expressions, vocalizations, and motor movement for each participant. Deep inhalations were found to increase when music of any form (vibrotactile and auditory) was used with the individuals. This finding was reported to be statistically significant. When compared to the use of bells, using the flute (played in a major key) resulted in a statistically significant increase in vocalizations. However, with regard to vocalizations, a major flute melody experienced in an auditory manner was more successful than the same music experienced via the Somatron. The researchers also found that, the first melody in a series of melodies that were presented to the participants evoked the greatest number of vocalizations when compared to subsequent melodies. The author identified a possible “critical period” where the differences between the presentation of music via the Somatron and music presented aurally were most noticeable.

  • Physiological Disabilities

    "The Effect of Vibrotactile Stimuli via the Somatron on the Identification of Rhythmic Concepts by Hearing Impaired Children"

    Source:
    Published Journal Article
    Journal of Music Therapy
    Fall 1989, XXVI (3), pgs. 115-124

    Location:
    Kansas School for the Deaf,
    Olathe, Kansas
    Date: 1989

    Contact Information:
    Alice-Ann Darrow, PhD, RMT-BC
    Associate Professor of Music Education and Music Therapy, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

    Harald Goll, M.Ed., MME
    J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt / Main, West Germany
    This research study was carried out to see whether or not vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron could help hearing-impaired children identify changes in rhythm. Twenty-nine hearing-impaired children participated in the research being presented with ten different rhythmic patterns both via a Somatron and aurally via a tape player. When the different patterns were experienced via the Somatron, the children were able to correctly identify a higher number of changes in rhythm than they were when the patterns were presented aurally. This finding was statistically significant (p<0.01). The author states that “hearing impaired children can benefit greatly from additional sensory input provided by vibrotactile stimuli” and that “learning can occur at a faster rate and in a more relaxed manner.”

    "Enabling Through Sound and Music"

    Source:
    Academic Clinical and Research Unit

    Location:
    Keele University
    England
    Music Used: Not Specified

    Contact Information:
    Gordon Dalgarno
    ETSAM
    c/o Unit for the Study of Musical Skill and Development
    Department of Psychology
    Keele University
    Staffs. ST5BG
    England
    Telephone: 01782-583388
    Fax: 01782-583387
    www.etsam.freeserve.co.uk
    psc01@keele.ac.uk

    Mr. Gordon Dalgarno is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Keele University in England where he works at the “Unit for the Study of Musical Skill and Development”. Mr. Dalgarno and his colleagues’ work focuses on three primary objectives:
    1) To enable individuals who are hearing impaired / deaf to experience music in a more enjoyable manner.
    2) To assist individuals with other special needs and physical disabilities in expressing themselves through music.
    3) To use music and sound therapeutically, employing techniques such as vibroacoustic therapy.
    The individuals that Mr. Dalgarno and his colleagues serve range from children to the elderly and these individuals are referred / recruited from local schools and other institutions. Mr Dalgarno reports that one of the primary goals of providing these services is to conduct scientific research, improving on current methods as well as developing new methods where there currently are limitations.

    Somatron, and other vibroacoustic equipment are used by the unit primarily with hearing impaired individuals. For these individuals, Mr Dalgarno stresses that an individualized program is the most successful. Music can be experienced both vibrotactily and visually at the unit and each individual is assessed for the most successful combination of the two interventions in order to insure that they gain the most enjoyment out of the music that is presented to them. Mr Dalgarno reports that currently they are in the process of developing and refining their vibroacoustic technology as well as designing and conducting scientific research.

    "The Effect of Vibrotactile Stimuli via the Somatron on the Identification of Pitch Change by Hearing Impaired Children"

    Source:
    Published Journal Article
    Journal of Music Therapy, XXIX (2), pgs.103-112

    Location:
    Kansas School for the Deaf
    Olathe, Kansas
    Date: 1989

    This research study was carried out to see whether or not vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron could help hearing impaired children identify changes in musical pitches. Seventeen hearing impaired children participated in the research being presented with ten patterns of changing musical pitches both via a Somatron and aurally via a tape player. Of the seventeen children, ten were better able to identify changes in pitch when the pitches were presented via the Somatron. It appeared that “feeling” the pitches on the Somatron enhanced the children’s ability to distinguish between different musical notes. These findings were generally consistent regardless of the direction that the pitches changed. The researchers and teachers involved in carrying out the project reported that they observed positive responses in the children during the time that they were using the Somatron.

    "Research Note: Preschooler's Responses to Auditory and Vibroacoustic Stimuli"

    Source:
    Published Research Article
    Psychology of Music, 92, Vol 20, No1, pg 80-85

    Location:
    Center for Music Research
    The Florida State University
    Date: 1992

    Contact Information:
    Dr. Jayne M. Standley
    Center for Music Research
    The Florida State University
    Tallahassee
    Florida, 32306

    This research study was carried out with preschool children. The aim was to see whether the experience of the Somatron had any effect on preschoolers’ attentiveness to and understanding of various stories. Ninety-six children participated in the study. Each child was assigned at random to one of four study groups. The four groups were as follows:

    1) A story played via a tape player
    2) A story played via a Somatron mattress
    3) A musical story played via a tape player
    4) A musical story played via a Somatron mattress

    In each group, children lay down on the Somatron mattress, even if the story or musical story was played via a tape player. In order to see the effects of the different story experiences, the researchers watched the children to see whether they a) were focusing their attention on the stories as they were played, b) understood what was happening during the stories, and c) had preferences for any part of their experience.

    The researchers found that the experience of being on the Somatron was preferred the most by those children who listened to a non musical story through it. No differences were found, however, between the attentiveness of the children in any of the four groups and neither the music or the vibration of the Somatron affected the children’s preferences for the the stories they heard. For both the children who experienced the non musical story and the children who experienced the musical story via the Somatron, their understanding of the story appeared to be somewhat reduced. The researchers suggested that further research be carried out with children of different ages to further explore the possibilities of vibroacoustic stimulation to affect attentiveness and comprehension.

  • Relaxation / Stress Management

    “The Effect of Vibrotactile and Auditory Stimuli on Perception of Comfort, Heart Rate, and Peripheral Finger Temperature”

    Source:
    Journal of Music Therapy, XXVIII (3), 1991, p.120-134

    Location:
    Florida State University
    School of Music, Tallahassee, FL

    Date: 1991

    Contact Information:
    Dr. Jayne M. Standley
    Department of Music Therapy
    Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

    This study was carried out to compare how music and the sound of a dentist’s drill, were experienced by college students when presented both via a tape player, and via a Somatron. One hundred and thirty college students participated in this study. The author found that, regardless of the type of sound, vibrotactile stimulation appeared to “blunt perception” and students reported that both their comfort and discomfort levels were reduced. When the sounds were experienced via the Somatron, students’ temperature was more likely to increase which, when measured via the finger, has been shown to indicate improved relaxation. The increases in temperature were found to be statistically significant (p<0.05). Students using the Somatron appeared to be more likely to have an decrease in their heart rate following the first sound that was presented (regardless of whether it was the music or the sound of the dental drill) and then an increase when the second sound was presented . This was the reverse case for the students that heard the sounds via a tape player. Those students who used the Somatron reported that they generally liked the experience regardless of whether the dental drill or the music were presented, in fact the sound of the dental drill was preferred more when experienced this way. Males were found to prefer their experiences with the Somatron more so than females.

    “The Effects of Vibrotactile Stimulation via the Somatron, on the Relaxation, Tension, Pain, and Mood Levels of Chronic Pain Patients”

    Source: Unpublished pilot research project

    Location:
    Capitol Medical Rehabilitation Hospital
    Under the supervision of Dr. Jayne Standley
    Department of Music Therapy
    Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

    Date: Fall, 1993

    Contact Information:
    Catherine L.W. Szuch, MM, MT-BC
    Research conducted under the name of Catherine L. Walters
    919-479-3292

    This research consisted of a pilot investigation carried out with four adult, male, chronic pain patients. Each patient received twenty minute sessions of vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron table using music that reflected their individual musical tastes. Patients rated their levels of pain on a 0-7 scale (0=no pain, 7= extreme pain) both before and after their session(s) with the Somatron. Generally, the patients did appear to gain some pain relief reporting slightly lower pain ratings at the end of their session(s) than they did before their session(s) started. The findings were not statistically significant, however, the number of patients that participated was small.

    “Music and its Effects on Mood”

    Source:
    Unpublished research completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for BA Program
    Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

    Location:
    Center for Music Research
    Florida State University
    Tallahassee, FL

    Date: 1993

    Contact Information:
    Catherine L.W. Szuch, MM, MT-BC
    Research conducted under the name of Catherine L. Walters
    919-479-3292

    This study looked at the mood of twenty-nine college students before and after they experienced one of three current popular songs, 1) “Vibeology” by Paula Abdul, 2) “So Hard to Say Goodbye” by Boys 2 Men, and 3) “Songbird” by Kenny G, vibrotactily via a Somatron. Readings of the student’s finger temperature were taken throughout their experience as a measure of their level of stress. Overall finger temperature was found to increase during the vibrotactile experience. Increases in finger temperature have been reported to be a physiological indicator of reduced levels of stress. The increase in finger temperature was found to be statistically significant for each of the three songs used (p<0.05) suggesting that these particular musical selections were found to be relaxing by college students when experienced using a Somatron.

    “The Effectiveness of the Somatron to Enhance Relaxation"

    Source:
    Unpublished research paper

    Location:
    St. Mary's Hospital, West Palm Beach, Florida

    Contact Information:
    Chuck Feeman, M.M., RMT-BC
    901 45th Street, PO Box 24620
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33416-4620

    Twenty individuals, patients and staff of a psychiatric facility, experienced fifteen minutes of music, vibrotactily, via a Somatron recliner. Twenty similar individuals experienced the same fifteen minutes of music, non-vibrotactily but under the same environmental conditions, while sitting in an ordinary reclining chair. The study’s participants reported an overall reduction anxiety following the music regardless of how it was presented. These reductions in anxiety were found to be statistically significant. The researcher reported however, that the reduction in anxiety experienced by the individuals using the Somatron was greater than that experienced by the individuals listening to music via a cassette player while sitting in the recliner. This difference between the groups was also found to be statistically significant.

    "Clinical Trial of a Music Generated Vibrotactile Therapeutic Environment for Musicians: Main Effects and Outcome Differences Between Therapy Subgroups"

    Source:
    Published Journal Article
    Journal of Music Therapy, XXXIV (1)
    1997, p. 2-32

    Location:
    North West England

    Date: 1997

    Contact Information:
    Dr. Warren Brodsky, CMT/RMT-BC
    Department of Behavioral Sciences
    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
    POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel

    Having identified the prevalence of performance anxiety amongst professional musicians, the authors of this study compared a “music enhanced therapy”, that utilized vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron recliner along with traditional counseling techniques, with counseling alone, and counseling in combination with music. Each of the three counseling techniques were found to benefit the musicians who reported reduced levels of anxiety, improvements in mood, and a reduction in the amount of pressure they reportedly felt before performing. The positive effects of the counseling interventions were also found to still be present 2 months after the study had been completed.

    “Music and Relaxation Techniques: A Combined Approach to Reduce Muscle Tension Level"

    Source:
    Unpublished research paper completed during a degree program at the University of Miami

    Location:
    University of Miami, Miami, Florida

    Date: September, 1986

    Contact Information:
    Jose Hernan Serra

    Twelve college students participated in this research project which looked at the success of the Somatron in reducing muscle tension. All students received a relaxation session using a Somatron. One group of students were presented with a selected piece of “soothing music”, a second group of students were presented with a pre-recorded muscle relaxation program, and the remaining group of students were presented with the pre-recorded relaxation program and soothing music at the same time. Electromyographic equipment (EMG) was used to measure the muscle tension of the students. The researcher found that the students using the soothing music with the Somatron had a tendency for increased muscle tension whereas the students using the pre-recorded relaxation program with the Somatron and those using the relaxation program and soothing music together with the Somatron had a tendency for reduced muscle tension. The results were not found to be statistically significant and in fact were reported to be somewhat contradictory to verbal reports provided by the students. The students that used the soothing music with the Somatron reported that they felt a good degree of relaxation, despite the fact that their muscle tension was found to increase. Similarly, the students using the pre-recorded relaxation program with the Somatron felt that the program itself caused them to experience an increase in tension, despite the fact that their muscle tension was found to be reduced. The researcher suggested the small number of students involved in the study and the lack of adequate control over noisy distractions and other interruptions during the study as possible suggestions for the discrepancies that were found.

    "The Effects of Whole Body Acoustic Stimulation on Subjective Relaxation, Verbalization, and Visual Imagery among Professional Orchestra Musicians"

    Source:
    Paper presented at third triennial ESCOM conference, Uppsala, Sweden

    Location: North West England

    Date: 1997 (Research presented June 1997)

    Contact Information:
    Dr. Warren Brodsky, CMT/RMT-BC
    Department of Behavioral Sciences
    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
    POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
    John Sloboda
    Keele University
    Staffordshire
    England

    This study followed Dr. Brodsky’s prior research “Clinical Trial of a Music Generated Vibrotactile Therapeutic Environment for Musicians: Main Effects and Outcome Differences Between Therapy Subgroups” published in the Journal of Music Therapy (See previous synopsis) and was presented at the Third Triennial ESCOM conference in Uppsala, Sweden.

    Based on the results of the previous research, Dr, Brodsky and his research colleagues noted some differences in the responses of musicians using a Somatron recliner. These differences were found in the responses of these musicians to relaxation, verbalization, and visual imagery interventions implemented to deal with stress. Dr. Brodsky and his colleagues reported that they felt that the differences they observed could be attributed to “whole body stimulation” i.e., applying the vibrations of music to large surface areas of the body.

    In order to look at this idea further, Dr, Brodsky and his colleagues designed another study to look specifically at the differences they had found previously.

    Dr Brodsky approached professional orchestra musicians to volunteer to participate in this study by sending out questionnaires to orchestra management personnel at three cities in North West England. Fifty four professional musicians agreed to participate in the study. The average age of the musicians was 36 years and there were about equal numbers of men and women volunteering. The majority of the musicians were string players.

    The study matched the volunteers both between as well as within the three different cities in an attempt to make sure that the musicians at each different location were similar for comparison.

    Each participating volunteer was assigned at random to one of three study conditions:

    1) “Verbal”. A relaxation program consisting of verbal conversation, visual imagery tasks and other relaxation exercises. Musicians were seated in the Somatron recliner but vibration was not used.

    2) “Music”. A relaxation program consisting of verbal conversation, visual imagery tasks and other relaxation exercises paired with pre-recorded music. Musicians were seated in the Somatron recliner but again, vibration was not used.

    3) “Somatron”. A relaxation program consisting of verbal conversation, visual imagery tasks and other relaxation exercises, again paired with pre-recorded music but this time the music was played through the speakers embedded in the Somatron recliner. Therefore the musicians in this group were seated in the Somatron recliner and did experience the vibration.

    Each musician, regardless of group, received 8, individual, 50 minute relaxation sessions over a period of 8 weeks. At the beginning and end of every session, the musicians completed copies of the questionnaire “Profile of Mood States” (POMS).

    At the end of the study, the researchers found several statistically significant results showing that patients experienced a reduction over time of tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, and confusion-bewilderment. However, these results were found in all groups indicating that all three of the relaxation programs were beneficial to the musicians that participated. Dr. Brodsky and his colleagues then looked more closely at the specific relaxation interventions to see if differences between the three groups could be identified. Differences between the groups were noted as follows:

    Verbal Relaxation: Musicians assigned to the Somatron group were found to have more emotional responses to this intervention, some individuals were reported to experience unexpected “flooding ” of emotions, other times musicians reported that they were elevated to a “peak”.

    Verbal Conversation: Musicians were asked to talk about the meaning and impact that music had had in their lives prior to and during the process of becoming a professional musician. Both the musicians assigned to the “Music” group and those assigned to the “Somatron” group were found to give much more in-depth and emotional descriptions of their experiences. The musicians assigned to the “Verbal” group seemed rather to provide much shorter and less in-depth explanations.

    Visual Imagery: This exercise involved various imagery exercises including having musicians visualize performing on stage. The researchers noted that only musicians assigned to either the “Music” or “Somatron” groups actually reported feeling sensations as if they were actually performing on stage.

    Dr. Brodsky and his colleagues concluded that music as well as music vibration appeared to both enhance the experience of imagery as well as evoke more memories and associations. Comparing the “Music” and the “Somatron” musicians further, the researchers found that the imagery of the musicians in the “Music” condition was both shorter and mono-thematic than that of the musicians in the “Somatron” condition.

    Dr. Brodsky discussed the limitations in the methods they used to interpret the sessions with the musicians as possible reasons for the limited statistical significance. However, he also pointed out that his findings were consistent with the findings of other researchers who have reported that the effects of using the Somatron may be more subtle and indirect.

  • NASA Bone Loss

    "'GOOD VIBRATIONS' MAY PREVENT BONE LOSS IN SPACE"

    Dwayne Brown Headquarters, Washington
    Oct. 1, 2001

    University of New York, Stony Brook

    New NASA research suggests bones that are slightly shaken may help astronauts stay healthier during long space flights, and could be used to help people suffering from bone loss here on earth.

    Scientists funded by NASA and its National Space Biomedical Research Institute in Houston uncovered evidence that barely perceptible vibrations may stimulate bone growth, which would benefit astronauts on extended space missions, the elderly here on the ground, and other people immobilized by paralysis or bed rest.

    A team of researchers, lead by Dr. Clinton Rubin of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, discovered that normally active animals exposed to 10 minutes per day of low-magnitude (.25g), high frequency (90 Hz) vibrations experienced increased bone formation when compared to the control group.

    In addition, when animals prevented from regular, weight-bearing activity, were exposed to 10 minutes of vibrations per day, bone formation remained at near-normal levels. However, animals not exposed to the treatment, but participated in 10minutes of weight-bearing activity each day, still exhibited signs of significant bone loss.

    While preliminary results are encouraging, "a full clinical study must be completed to demonstrate the effectiveness of using vibrations to recover bone mass and architecture in people with osteoporosis or to prevent the bone loss known to occur in astronauts during long duration space flight," Rubin said.

    "The technique works by stimulating the bones' stress that are placed on them," said Dr. Bruce Hather, a muscle specialist at NASA Headquarters Office of Biological and Physical Research in Washington. "The people you see working out with barbells at the local gym typically have larger muscles and stronger bones than someone who does little or no exercise."

    While researchers do not fully understand the physiological mechanism at work, the vibrations appear to fool the bones into thinking they are working hard. This results in the retention, and even additional growth, of bone tissue. This research may be particularly useful for long-duration space missions of the future.

    The absence of mechanical stimulation to bones and muscles in micro gravity leads to substantial bone loss and muscle weakness in astronauts. In flights lasting four to six months, astronauts can lose bone mineral density approaching 1.6% per month.

    Although there has not been enough long-term research to determine if such rates of bone loss would continue, scientists estimate that during a two and a half-year round trip mission to Mars, astronauts could lose up to half of their bone density from specific parts of the skeleton. This could seriously jeopardize an astronaut's health on return to Earth.

    At the same time, current astronaut exercise regimes for long-duration space missions are time consuming, eating away at valuable crew time. Low-level vibrations may offer a countermeasure for this condition without the need for a medicinal Intervention.

    Other members of the research team include Gang Xu and Stefan Judex, both of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Many of our customers are involved in research in the field. Here are some of the findings they have reported using Somatron equipment.

  • Fairfax County Public Schools, Vienna, VA

    Clinical Experiences

    Type of Facility: Public School - Special Education Center

    Patient Population using the Somatron: Children and Young Adults with Severe Disabilities or Autism

    Date of Reported Experiences: March, 1996

    Primary Findings: Calming agitation and reducing mouthing behavior

    Music Used: Not reported

    Contact Information:
    Ava Geozy Dowdy, MT-BC
    Fairfax County Schools, Kilmer Center
    8102 Wolftrap Road
    Vienna, Virginia 22182

    Ava Geozy Dowdy, Music Therapist at the Kilmer Center in Vienna, Virginia discussed some of her clinical experiences with an Olympia table model Somatron. Students at the Kilmer Center between the ages of 5 and 22 years with severe disabilities or autism were given opportunities to try the Somatron. Ms. Dowdy reported that she was using the Somatron with several goals in mind. She was looking to see whether vibrotactile stimulation was successful in encouraging deeper breathing, reducing self stimulatory behavior and replacing agitation with calmness and relaxation in her students. Ms. Dowdy reported that one particular student responded very positively to the Somatron, he was able to “calm down on it when he is very agitated”. Another student who mouthed his hands kept them out of his mouth for 10 minutes during a Somatron session. Some of the behaviors that Ms. Dowdy reported to be observing during Somatron sessions were students’ physical and vocal responses, positioning, and any other attempts at communication.

  • Dunbar School

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: Educational Facility

    Patient Population using the Somatron:
    Students at the Dunbar School with various diagnoses. including Rett Syndrome and Autism.

    Date of Reported Experiences:
    Primary Findings: Reduced crying episodes, increased relaxation and succeeded as a motivational reward.

    Music Used: Not Specified

    Contact Information:
    Dunbar School
    Weir Avenue and Baker Street
    Weirton, West Virginia 26062
    Phone: (304)748-0980

    A report from the Dunbar School in West Virginia discussed the various ways that they used their Somatron with some of the clients that attend their school. One student with a diagnosis of Rett Syndrome was introduced to the Somatron in an attempt to see whether a vibrotactile intervention could successfully reduce extreme crying spells. A progress report indicated that, indeed, the use of the Somatron appeared to be beneficial. The Somatron was also used with students during Physical Therapy to investigate its effects upon muscle tone, developmental issues, and self-stimulatory behavior. Infant stimulation was another area that was discussed. It was proposed that infants at the Dunbar School be provided with opportunities to experience vibrotactile stimulation via the Somatron while being massaged. Finally, a student diagnosed with Autism was introduced to the Somatron in an attempt to address this student’s whining behavior. The Somatron was used in this situation to increase relaxation and also as a motivational reward as this particular student responded very positively to the experience.

  • Walter E. Fernald State School, Belmont, MA

    Clinical Experiences

    Type of Facility: Public School - Special Education Center

    Patient Population using the Somatron: Children and Young Adults with Severe Disabilities or Autism

    Date of Reported Experiences: March, 1996

    Primary Findings: Calming agitation and reducing mouthing behavior

    Music Used: Not reported

    Contact Information:
    Ava Geozy Dowdy, MT-BC
    Fairfax County Schools, Kilmer Center
    8102 Wolftrap Road
    Vienna, Virginia 22182

    Ava Geozy Dowdy, Music Therapist at the Kilmer Center in Vienna, Virginia discussed some of her clinical experiences with an Olympia table model Somatron. Students at the Kilmer Center between the ages of 5 and 22 years with severe disabilities or autism were given opportunities to try the Somatron. Ms. Dowdy reported that she was using the Somatron with several goals in mind. She was looking to see whether vibrotactile stimulation was successful in encouraging deeper breathing, reducing self stimulatory behavior and replacing agitation with calmness and relaxation in her students. Ms. Dowdy reported that one particular student responded very positively to the Somatron, he was able to “calm down on it when he is very agitated”. Another student who mouthed his hands kept them out of his mouth for 10 minutes during a Somatron session. Some of the behaviors that Ms. Dowdy reported to be observing during Somatron sessions were students’ physical and vocal responses, positioning, and any other attempts at communication.

  • Strathmartine Hospital

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: MR/DD Hospital Facility

    Patient Population using the Somatron: Individuals with Learning disabilities

    Primary Findings:
    Responses of individuals with learning disabilities to the Somatron Sound Lounge vary.

    Music Used:
    Opening 10-15 minutes of "Antarctica" by Vangelis

    Contact Information:
    Jeff Hooper, Senior Music Therapist
    Dundee Healthcare NHS Trust
    Strathmartine Hospital
    Dundee, Scotland.

    Music Therapist, Jeff Hooper, used a Somatron Sound Lounge with learning disabled clients enrolled in the Music Therapy Program at Strathmartine Hospital, in Dundee, Scotland. The aim of using the Somatron was to see how effective it was in dealing with anxiety experienced by these clients as well as to compare it to other musical interventions. He developed a special treatment program consisting of 8 weekly sessions that gradually introduced the Somatron to his clients. The experiences of two clients were reported as examples of the use of the Somatron equipment in this setting in an article included in the book “Music Vibration” (Edited by Tony Wigram and Cheryl Dileo).

    Client 1 responded very positively to the experience and was reported as being more relaxed during the Somatron sessions than other non-Somatron music sessions.

    Client 2 however, did not respond positively to the experience, refusing to lie down on the Somatron.

    Mr. Hooper reported that it was difficult for some clients to position themselves on the particular model of the Somatron with ease. In addition, he reported that some clients refused to lie down on the Somatron reporting that they “did not want to go to bed in the afternoon”, and noted that going to bed is often associated with a “time out” situation. The Somatron may, therefore, have been viewed negatively by some of the clients before they had the opportunity to experience its effects.

  • Massachusetts Association for the Blind

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: State Facility for Blind and Multihandicapped Individuals

    Patient Population using the Somatron:
    Students enrolled in the Massachusetts Assoc. for the Blind
    Multihandicapped Children's Program

    Date of Reported Experiences: August, 1990

    Primary Findings: Improved communication. Assisting in post-seizure recovery.

    Music Used: Not reported.

    Contact Information:
    Dr. Beth Denisch, DMA-ABD
    Massachusetts Association for the Blind
    200 Ivy Street
    Brookline, MA 02146
    Phone: (508) 537-1514

    In a letter written to Senator Kennedy, Dr. Beth Denisch, Music Therapist for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, discussed the success of Music Therapy with residential students at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind’s Multihandicapped Children’s Program. Children whose physical handicaps prevent their participation in live Music Therapy sessions are provided with opportunities to experience vibrotactile stimulation via a Somatron. Dr. Denisch discusses several clinical uses of the Somatron with her students during her letter. For students that are hearing impaired, she tells how “feeling” music through the Somatron “accentuates” anything that they may be able to hear. Dr. Denisch reports that the experience “effects communication, creating an understandable link to them between what they are hearing and feeling”. One technique adopted by Dr. Denisch during these Somatron sessions is to reinforce the student’s experience by tapping the rhythm and / or melody being experienced through the Somatron on the student’s body. This, she reports, brings the student in touch with the outside world, allowing him or her to share their experience with another person.

    Many of the students of the facility suffer from chronic seizures. Dr. Denisch reports, in her letter, that the Somatron has been used successfully after a seizure to help students “transition back to a more daily awareness”.

  • Rebound, Inc.

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: Head Injury Recovery Services

    Patient Population using the Somatron: Neurologically impaired, head injured clients

    Date of Reported Experiences: March 1992

    Primary Findings:
    Improvements in muscle tone/muscle tension. Reductions in agitation and pain

    Music Used:
    Individualistic to suit client needs. Music with a forward tempo, a non percussive, full melody and a gradually changing base line was reported to be the most effective.

    Contact Information:
    Jan M. Shuler, MT-BC

    Rebound Inc.A Somatron recliner was introduced through Music Therapist Jan Shuler, MT-BC, to Rebound, Inc., a facility that provides head injury recovery services. During a demonstration of the product at the facility, Ms. Shuler reported the following successful findings with some of the facility’s clients:

    Client A: was reported to be normally “extremely off task and agitated”. This client was noted to be on task for 10 of the 25 minutes of his Somatron session, his muscle tone was observed to decrease dramatically and he did not want to get up at the end of the session. Client A was very complementary about his experience with the Somatron describing it as “incredible” and reporting that his thoughts were clearer.

    Client T: was provided with an opportunity to try the Somatron recliner and experience his favorite type of music, Reggae, vibrotactily. This client was observed to smile spontaneously during the session. Client T was reported to show a decrease in “muscle tone” which appeared to provide him with a better ability to move and at times he appeared to be “dancing” to the music.

    The decrease in muscle tension that Client T was reported to experience was found to be commonly experienced by other clients at the facility. Ms. Shuler reported that 100% of those clients with high muscle tone experienced a decrease after using the Somatron. One particular client whose arms were drawn tightly into his chest and were “resistive to passive range of motion” exercises, was able to extend his elbows to -30 degrees while he was in the Somatron recliner.

    Two other clients were also found to gain positive benefits from the use of the Somatron. These particular individuals were observed to transition from an agitated, moaning and pained state to a state of deep sleep only 5 minutes into the session.

  • Tampa Children's Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Tampa, FL

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: Children's Hospital

    Patient Population using the Somatron: Pediatric patients receiving invasive procedures

    Date of Reported Experiences: Somatron installed in November of 1990

    Primary Findings: Reduction in stress, increased relaxation

    Secondary Findings: Diversion from pain

    Music Used:
    Various, age appropriate music, lullabies, Disney soundtracks, and current popular songs

    Contact Information:
    Laura Jones, RN, MBA, CORN
    Director of Patient Care Services
    Tampa Childrens' Hospital, St. Josephs
    Tampa, Florida

    Laura Jones, a nurse and Director of Patient Care Services at St Joseph’s hospital, arranged for the installation of a Somatron in place of a standard examination table in one of the facility’s pediatric procedure rooms. The aim was to use music/vibration as a diversion during invasive procedures, such as blood draws and IV insertions, with children that were anxious, scared or in distress. Care was taken to select age appropriate music. Two case studies were reported as examples of the use of the Somatron equipment in this setting in an article included in the book “Music Vibration” (Edited by Tony Wigram and Cheryl Dileo).

    Patient 1 was an infant male who was in an extremely fragile medical condition where increased anxiety and distress frequently resulted in extreme problems with his breathing. Music had been found to be successful in soothing this patient in the past and was therefore played via the Somatron when blood samples were needed or when an IV had to be started. Ms. Jones reported that music experienced via the Somatron was successful in preventing the development of breathing troubles with this patient when invasive procedures were necessary.

    Patient 2 was a premature baby diagnosed with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus. This patient had extremely tight arm and leg muscles when awake and consequently received frequent sedatives. When invasive procedures were necessary, the baby became agitated and upset. Music again had been found to be successful in calming this patient previously and was again, played via the Somatron during these procedures. It was reported that this experience was successful in settling the baby although the vibration was not used in this case.

  • Dr. Patricia H. Berne

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: Private psychotherapy practice

    Patient Population using the Somatron: Patients receiving psychotherapy

    Date of Reported Experiences: February, 1992

    Primary Findings:
    Relief of tension, anxiety, stress and tiredness. Assistance in the processing of information. Relief of pain.

    Secondary Findings:
    Speeding up the course of psychotherapy and encouraging more focus during that therapy.

    Music Used:
    "Cassette programs created specifically for the Somatron"
    Music selected individually by clients.

    Contact Information:
    Patricia H. Berne, Ph.D.
    Clinical Psychologist
    5201 MacArthur Terrace, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20016
    Phone: 202-244-4411

    Dr. Patricia Berne, a practicing Clinical Psychologist, offered a Somatron to some of her patients to use following Psychotherapy sessions. After observing these patients, Dr. Berne reported several benefits of using this intervention as a complement to her therapy. Those patients using the Somatron appeared to become more “centered”, were able to release tension, tiredness and pain (mostly headaches and muscle soreness), and also became more energized and refreshed.

    Dr. Berne encouraged her clients both to rest on the Somatron by themselves as well as to use the experience to integrate and process anything that may have come to light during the course of their therapy. Along with using the Somatron to assist in the integration and processing of information, Dr. Berne encouraged those clients who were experiencing tension, anxiety and stress to use the Somatron between their scheduled Psychotherapy sessions. When used in this manner, she reported that the Somatron had a calming effect. In addition, Dr. Berne observed that those clients taking advantage of the opportunity to use the Somatron seemed to progress through her therapy “faster and with more focus”.

  • Hydes Herbal Clinic

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: Herbal Medicine Clinic

    Patient Population using the Somatron:
    Herbal medicine patients being treated primarily for pain

    Date of Reported Experiences: July and August 1995

    Primary Findings:
    Pain Relief, reduced need for pain medication(s)

    Secondary Findings:
    Improvements in sleep, improved walking, reduction in swelling.

    Music Used: "The Musical Body Program", Therasound

    Contact Information:
    Mr. Terry Walters, MNIMH
    Hydes Herbal Clinic
    68 London Road, Leicester, LE 2 OQD
    London
    Phone Number: 01144 116 254 3178
    A Somatron mat was used by Medical Herbalist Mr. Terry Walters with two of his patients as a complementary therapy to standard Herbal treatments. Both of the patients that experienced the Somatron were having problems with the management of their pain.
    Patient 1 presented to the clinic with severe abdominal pain, nausea and lethargy as a result of the effects of prolonged medication use. This patient received 4 sessions with a Somatron mat using the “Musical Body Program” which comprises a set of cassette tapes written to correspond to different areas of the body. Mr. Walters reported that patient 1 experienced a reduction in her pain, improvements in the quality of her sleep and also a reduction in swelling around her abdomen after using the Somatron.

    Patient 2 presented to the clinic with lung cancer. After completing chemotherapy, this patient was still experiencing a marked amount of pain that was being controlled with the medication Morphine. This patient received Somatron sessions on two occasions again using the “Musical Body Program”. After the first session, the patient reported a reduction in pain to the point where he could no longer feel any and at the next session he reported that the pain relief lasted well into the early hours of the next morning. This patient continued to experience pain relieving effects as he repeated sessions using the Somatron.

  • Brain Fitness Center, Matea

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: Brain Fitness Center

    Patient Population using the Somatron:
    Individuals suffering as a result of recent war activity. Students.

    Date of Reported Experiences: August 1998

    Primary Findings: Initial findings are reportedly positive.

    Music Used: Not reported

    Contact Information:
    Dr. Petar-Kreslimar Hodzic
    Project Coordinator
    Brain Fitness Center - Mateau
    Preradoviceva 37
    HRVATSKE - CROATIA
    Phone: 385-1-4817 192
    Fax: 385-1-423-661

    Staff at the Brain Fitness Center in Croatia have been using Somatron equipment with individuals attending the facility. The center offers both individual and group programs that are primarily aimed to improve cognitive functioning and the general overall well being of these individuals. The work at the center has received media interest and attention and has consequently been included in education broadcasting. The Brain Fitness Center expanded to collaborate with the School of Medicine at the University of Zagreb as well as with the Croatian Institute for Brain Research and the Croatian Medical Student International Committee (croMSIC). The initial goal of the center was to focus on providing healing for the “wounds of recent war”. With their work already showing signs of success at this early stage, the staff report that they are hopeful they will meet their goal as their work progresses. More recently the center has begun to focus on a new issue. After conducting surveys, staff identified a possible link between students’ health deterioration and their educational experiences. In order to investigate this further, a research project is being developed that will introduce a pilot group of students to relaxation and anti-stress methods in an attempt to see whether their stress levels decrease and also whether there are any positive effects on cognitive functioning (e.g. memory and learning). This project is currently ongoing and has received support from a number of other facilities and organizations (see “New and Ongoing Research” section for more details).

  • Harp Therapy

    Clinical Experience

    Type of Facility: Published Journal Article, The Harp Therapy Journal, Fall 2000

    Location of Research: Silva Vocat Music Gallery , Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

    Date/Year of Research: Concluded 1999

    Contact Information:
    Sarajane Williams, M.A.
    Licensed Psychologist
    Silva Vocat Music Gallery
    9 East 3rd Street
    Bethlehem, PA 18015
    Phone: 610-317-8700
    Fax: 610-317-8720

    www.silvavocat.com

    www.harptherapy.com

    This research was carried out by the author, Sarajane Williams, a psychologist who uses her harp in her practice. Ms. Williams wanted to look at the effects of combining the already beneficial effects of harp music with the vibrotactile sensations experienced via a Somatron. Specifically, she allowed patients to experience her harp music vibrotactily by playing it through a portable Somatron table. Twenty five patients aged between 13 and 85 years participated as subjects in this research. Five of the 25 patients were male and 20 were female.
    Each patient was given the opportunity to receive 30 minutes of live harp music amplified through the Somatron table. The author lists 13 responses provided by the various participants in the study after their experience with vibrotactile harp music. These responses were as follows: localized tension / pain reduction; overall relaxation; increased body awareness / sensation / tingling; “flushed” feeling; floating sensation; feeling energized; sinus drainage; felt like they were dancing; felt restored / nurtured / indulged / protected; positive imagery / associations; affective release; myolclonic release.

    The author reports that her findings were consistent with the findings reported in other vibroacoustic literature and suggests that more research be conducted in this area.

  • Giant Steps

    Clinical Experience

    Giant Steps Connecticut
    SOMATRON Corporation
    8503 N. 29th Street
    Tampa, FL 33604

    August 10, 1998

    Dear Mr. Eakin,

    The following is an explanation of the many ways that we use the Somatron Body Pillow in the Music therapy program at Giant Steps. As you know, Giant Steps is a private school for children with neurological impairments -- primarily Autism. Each child at giant Steps has an individualized plan including 1 on 1 therapeutic sessions in Occupational Therapy, Play Therapy, Speech Therapy, Activities of Daily Living, and Music Therapy.
    USES FOR THE SOMATRON BODY PILLOW:

    Relaxation:

    Several of the children at Giant Steps have difficulty regulating their arousal levels. Often a child will enter the Music room needing assistance in becoming organized. Under the supervision of our Occupational Therapist, the student will be guided through a series of other techniques to reduce stress while sitting on the body pillow with calming music. The therapist has an opportunity to help the child to achieve a state of readiness before working. Many of our children have a tactile defensiveness however because of the encompassing design of the Body Pillow and the accompanying relaxing music, the students are generally very receptive to this "hands on" manipulation.

    Note:
    I have found that our students are more comfortable with the cassettes that are steady and predictable. The random music seems to set an uneasy tone and many students cannot tolerate the tactile input when it is not in a consistent and repeated pattern.

    The SOMATRON as a Reinforcer

    Often at Giant Steps we will use music as a contingent reinforcer. When I find a child that is highly motivated by the sound and "feel" of the Body Pillow, I will use this as a reward. Academic work is brought into the Music Room and with each correct response, the child is given a few moments of their favorite music. The size of the Body Pillow is ideal as it provides a work space with enough room for both the child and the therapist to work side by side. Language goals are addressed with our students with language delays or with those that are primarily non-verbal or echolalic. Because they are highly motivated by the sounds and vibro-tactile input, many of our students will produce approximations of "on" "more" or short sentences: "I want more music".

    The Somatron has been a wonderful addition to the Music Therapy classroom. We have used tapes sent to us as well as other favorite children's tapes and classical music.

    Note: there are some children that we do not use the Somatron with -- mainly those with seizure disorders.

    If you have any further questions about our program or Music Therapy in general, please contact me at any time. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Susan M Davis, MT-BC

  • Clemments, LMT

    Rebecca Clemments - LMT

    In my work (vibro-acoustic sound therapy) I use the Somatron Body Mat. I was introduced to Somatron products in 1999 and saw the potential for real healing using the body mat. I switched from massage to sound therapy as I saw more and more of my clients achieving deeper relaxation on the mat.

    I practice in Brandon, Florida in a private office. As a Reiki Master and intuitive healer, the Somatron Body Mat fits in nicely with my work. My clients have experienced a profound and long-lasting benefits from the vibro-acoustic sound therapy.

    I am delighted to be of service to others, and extremely pleased with the Somatron Company ant their product. For more information on what I do, as well as client comments, click on www.TheSoundHealer.com.

    Sincerely,

    Rebecca Clemments, LMT

  • Sound Body Wholistic Health Center

    Sound Body Wholistic Health Center

    Dear Byron, I am the founder and director of the Sound Body Wholistic Health Center in St. Petersburg, FL. As a Licensed Massage Therapist, sound healing practitioner and distributor of Somatron products for over 15 years, I thought it time to share a little of my experience with Somatron products.

    I have worked with clients with advanced cancer, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, post-surgery, emotional trauma, Parkinson's Disease and a host of other conditions. Rarely have I seen a client who did not benefit in some way from this therapy. At the very least there are consistent reports of deep relaxation and reduced pain. It is my experience that the Somatron is also useful to increase circulation, reduce edema, as well as relieving stress, anxiety and depression. Many people who have reported having a headache when they come in said it disappeared during the treatment. Some people have reported dramatic pain relief from chronic conditions which have never recurred to the original severity even if they did not receive another treatment and the condition was not "cured". I have also seen clients have tremendous relief from acute injuries including reduction of swelling, increased range of motion and pain relief.

    I have found that the effect of a Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy treatment is often long-lasting and profound on many levels- not just a panacea or a wonderful experience while it is happening which comes to an end when you get off the mat or recliner. (We have both at our center.)

    I am also now certified through the Florida State Board of Massage Therapy to teach Continuing Education Courses to Licensed Massage Therapists in the state of Florida and am very excited to be able to bring this modality to other massage therapists. It is such an effective tool for deep relaxation allowing the therapist to work deeper without working harder. In fact it greatly reduces the physical strain on the therapist while bringing the clients level of enjoyment and benefit to another level altogether.

    For those who are interested in learning more about sound therapy, vibroacoustic therapy or are interested in classes or private sessions my website is www.wholisticsound.com.

    Thank you for what you do.

    Blessings,
    Rosie Warburton

    Sound Body Wholistic Health Center
    5530 1st Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33710
    www.wholisticsound.com
    727-388-1444

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