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The effect of music therapy on infants born with gastroschisis




Wenszell, Melissa J., author
LaGasse, Blythe, advisor
Davis, William, committee member
Walrond, John, committee member

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Gastroschisis is a congenital anomaly characterized by a hole in the abdominal wall. Through this hole intestines and abdominal organs protrude requiring these infants to have surgery shortly after birth. Both preoperatively and postoperatively, infants born with gastroschisis require pain medications and ventilator support, intravenous feedings and endure long hospital stays. These infants often continue to experience constant discomfort, difficulty in eating, and may develop bowel problems and other complications such as sepsis. Music therapy is an established mode of treatment to promote individual wellness, healing and change. Live lullaby style music was provided on the guitar and / or reverie harp with humming and vocals to infants with gastroschisis postoperatively up to three times a week for 25 minutes followed by 30 minutes of quiet time. The infant's physiological parameters of heart rate, respiration and oxygen saturation were measured pre, during and post music therapy along with a behavioral and pain assessment tool, the CRIES scale. Seven infants were enrolled in the study and 29 music therapy sessions were conducted. The average heart rate, respiratory rate and the CRIES score between pre and post music therapy was compared using the paired t-test. A two-sided p-value < 0.05 was used as the significance level. With physiological parameters and CRIES both at .05 (p<0.05) respectively, statistical significance was found only for respiration rate during the post intervention 30 minutes of quiet time p=0.0047. Statistical significance on the effect of music therapy for parameters of heart rate, saturation and CRIES was not found on infants born with gastroschisis. If a caregiver was present for the music therapy session, a Likert-type scale survey was provided to rate the experience of the live music for the parent and their perception of benefit to their child. Caregivers observed only four sessions and each completed survey had been awarded the maximum of 30 points, therefore, the perception was high that music therapy had positive benefits for both the infant and the caregiver. More research in the effect of music therapy on infants is needed. Within the gastroschisis population, no other study is available, and this data may provide a small foundation toward further study. While overall statistical significance was not found, acute effects were noted in behavioral changes of these medically compromised infants.


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music therapy
pain modification
reverie harp


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