November 18, 2020

American Family Children's Hospital getting creative with music therapy during COVID-19

Madison, Wis. — American Family Children's Hospital Music Therapy Program has come up with creative solutions to comfort, engage and support patients who are in the hospital during COVID-19, including using the hospital's closed-circuit TV system to broadcast music performances live into patient rooms.

Typical music therapy sessions can't happen during COVID-19, but board-certified music therapist Carly Ramthun still leads group music sessions with a little help from technology. She starts by dropping off instruments in patient rooms and then sings songs from the first-floor lobby, which is broadcast into patient rooms, creating a group dynamic virtually.

"When kids have a successful experience creating music together, led by a music therapist, it can improve their mood, enhance and strengthen social connections, and build resilience during intense and emotional events," said Ramthun. "Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we are not able to have these direct group social interactions, but we have come up with some temporary solutions to meet the needs of our patients."

Research indicates actively engaging in creating music has greater positive effects than passively listening to songs and watching.

Ramthun also goes into patient rooms, wearing the proper personal protective equipment, for individualized music therapy sessions. Music therapy is a part of the hospital's child life program which enables trained professionals to help children, adolescents and families cope with fear and anxiety during their hospital stay. The music therapist is a full-time position that is funded through philanthropy efforts.