Javier Alcántara, music therapist: "It is one thing to play in a hospital and another is to have therapeutic objectives"

Everyone knows that the benefits of music are numerous. Any artistic form, by the simple fact of existing, is something very positive. But music therapy goes a step further. Through the use of the science of music as a tool to meet certain needs, both patients and families, different fundamental aspects such as physical, psychological, social or emotional are worked on.

Javier Alcántara is a music therapist in several Alzheimer’s centers and in the ICUs of the Torrejón Hospital, in Ramon y Cajal and in San Rafael. Alcántara studied music and later did a postgraduate degree in music therapy at the University of Extremadura and his practices were developed at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “Music therapy has therapeutic objectives, the music therapist has to be trained. One thing is when I am playing or composing and another is when I am working as a music therapist ”, affirms Javier.

The effects of music therapy in ICUs

As the music therapist says, the effect is practically immediate, but for this it is necessary that they be implanted in a correct way. Hence the idea of ​​making a guide with the Solidarity Fun Foundation, in order to open the way in other hospitals and to know how to start a project of these characteristics.

“We meet with the medical team and they explain to us which patients are going to receive the treatment. Then we go with the instruments and go into the box ”, says Javier Alcántara. If the patient is awake, they do active music therapy, in which the patient and family members also play the instruments. “It is very impressive to see a tubed person playing the drum or maracas,” says the music therapist.

Tailored to the needs of patients

One of the techniques they develop is clinical improvisation. “We compose songs in real time based on the needs of the patients. If a patient, for example, can only touch the drum with his hand, with that rhythm we create a song for the mood, for motor skills or to promote oxygen saturation ”, explains Alcántara.

Since musical memory is the last to be lost, if the patient is sedated or in a coma, relatives are asked what songs they might like. “On one occasion a person was sedated and a relative told us that he liked Medina Azahara very much. My partner played a song by Medina Azahara. After a while he woke up and told the head of the service that he had heard the voice of a girl singing a song. When we did the song again we did it with the patient awake. It was very emotional. That part of humanization is very important ”, recalls Javier Alcántara.

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