Therapeutic Effects of Drum Therapy?
Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From the shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Current research is now verifying the therapeutic effects of ancient rhythm techniques. Recent research reviews indicate that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self.
Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer's patients, autistic children, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations. Study results demonstrate that drumming is a valuable treatment for stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders, and a wide range of physical disabilities.
What is special in Drum Therapy?
The special healing effect of drumming therapy could be partially due to the fact that drumming reaches down into a person’s psyche to touch patients in a non-verbal way. Drumming therapy is being used with people of all ages. From patients as young as four to those as old as 104, drumming therapy has many benefits. Some of the benefits of drumming therapy include:
- Drumming has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression in patients over the age of 80. A study also noted the increased self-esteem of the patients following their weekly drumming session.
- During one study on drumming therapy, participants had blood samples drawn before and after a one-hour drumming session. Doctors found a marked decrease in the hormonal stress response and an increase in activity of natural killer cells.
- Alzheimer’s patients have been shown to respond favorably to drumming therapy. They are able to connect better with their loved ones as a result. Therapeutic drumming can also increase their cognitive ability.
- For patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease or stroke, moving can be difficult. Therapeutic drumming, when done with deliberate slow, steady rhythms, enabled these patients to move more steadily.
Research has demonstrated that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain synchronizes the two cerebral hemispheres. When the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere begin to pulsate in harmony, the inner guidance of intuitive knowing can then flow unimpeded into conscious awareness. The ability to access unconscious information through symbols and imagery facilitates psychological integration and a reintegration of self.
Drumming also synchronizes the frontal and lower areas of the brain, integrating nonverbal information from lower brain structures into the frontal cortex, producing “feelings of insight, understanding, integration, certainty, conviction, and truth, which surpass ordinary understandings and tend to persist long after the experience, often providing foundational insights for religious and cultural traditions.”
The reason rhythm is such a powerful tool is that it permeates the entire brain. Vision for example is in one part of the brain, speech another, but drumming accesses the whole brain. The sound of drumming generates dynamic neuronal connections in all parts of the brain even where there is significant damage or impairment such as in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Why the drum affects Alzheimer's clients more than other forms of music therapy?
The possible reason for the Drum Therapy being potentially more efficient for Alzheimer’s patients, that any other forms of music therapy is based on the scientific fact that rhythm, even more than tone, reflects our earliest - actually prenatal - experience. The first sounds we hear are those of the mother's heartbeat when we are still in the womb. Drumming calls to mind that familiar rhythm… And when our mother holds us against her chest, and tenderly pats our back we can hear and feel the rhythmic pulse of her heart and hand. That beat can evoke the memory of a familiar, peaceful state. It can affect our emotions and the reactions of our muscles. It helps our body relax. It can create an emotion close to that of euphoria.
When we are part of a group playing the drums, the familiarity of a shared rhythmic beat helps everyone to experience a unity with the group. The group healing effect is potentially stronger that one received from individual sessions.
Because Alzheimer's patients usually have a short attention span, and also because some tire easily, it is recommended to limit the therapy sessions length by no more than thirty minutes per class.
Sources and Additional Information: