Banner NICU patients show improvement with music therapy
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Some babies need extra special loving care, and Banner Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is helping fill that gap with a unique form of therapy.
Sarra Erb is working to help these premature babies with her very special gift — her voice! She is a music therapist at Banner Children’s at Desert in Mesa. Inside the NICU, she sings to sick and premature babies. She’s uniquely trained to soothe them and offer a gentle touch. Erb said part of the therapy for an infant could look like 10 types of touch in the same area on the head or cheek. Each nursery rhyme is sung five to 10 times in a row for a similar reason.
“We’re helping them learn that not all touch is bad, by providing positive reinforcement through singing or humming while doing ‘light touch,’ so they won’t be fearful of sensory experiences as they grow,” said Erb. Babies needing her specific kind of care can start seeing Erb as young as 28 weeks, and touch can be added into the therapy around 32 weeks. One mother, Alicia Cervantes from Mesa, said she can tell her daughter Boston has improved through the therapy. “She is the happiest baby,” she said. “I want to thank God for the healing hands at Banner Desert.”
Musical therapy is proven to help infants process information, aid in development and promotes self-calming behavior. According to the American Music Therapy Association, musical therapy helps boost weight gain in babies and decreases the length of time the infant needs NICU care. Also, it can help the infant adjust to noises in the everyday world and helps them get deeper sleep.
Besides babies, Erb also works with kids 17 and under as she sits at their bedside inside the hospital itself, and at Sophie’s Place, Erb works within a specialized recording studio, listening area with children, and practice areas where patients and their families can all enjoy music therapy together.
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