The famous musician, Fredric Chopin is thought to have had cystic fibrosis and possibly tuberculosis. In light of this it is interesting that music and art therapies are currently being used to help young people with cystic fibrosis. This is what one study said about the effect of the illness on Chopin’s musical production,
the artistic level is invariably high and the musical language is both universal and unmistakably personal. A nearly life-long suffering from illness marked his life and influenced his artistry, as composer and pianist. Chopin’s struggle with a fateful disease, and his instinctive understanding that he would lose, made imprints on some of his works that carry a somber intensity, bordering on desperation. The emotional tension of these compositions, that appear already from youth and henceforward, goes far beyond the musical conventions of the time.
1Art As a Frustration Release
Being ill and hospitalized can be a frightening and frustrating experience. More and more hospitals are using arts programs as a way to create support for patients and increase positive social contact.
Art is an expressive outlet for the physical limitations and emotional frustrations of living with a life limiting condition such cystic fibrosis. In the Manchester Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre we have facilitated the sharing of the inherent artistic talent of our patients with the support of painters, musicians, potters, creative writers, photographers and textile specialists and our own ward staff. The program has provided some splendid works that enliven our ward and, more importantly, continue to inspire our patients as they attempt to overcome the socially limiting consequences of hospital admission
2Positive Physical Therapy Experiences and Music
Other clinics are using music to set up a positive experience for children during physical therapy treatments.
Routine chest physiotherapy (CPT) is an important component of prophylactic therapy in children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and requires a significant commitment of time and energy. It is important, therefore, to establish CPT as a positive experience. Results indicate that children’s and parents’ enjoyment of routine chest physiotherapy significantly increased after the use of specifically composed and recorded music [vs familiar music, and the family’s usual routine] as an adjunct. We therefore recommend that recorded music, such as that provided in this study, be given to parents to use as an adjunct to CPT when their young children are diagnosed with CF, in order to assist the establishment of a positive routine.
3Music While Walking
Music can also be used while exercising both for enjoyment and motivation. In a study to investigate the effects of motivational and relaxation music on affective responses during exercise in patients with cystic fibrosis, researchers found,
Carefully selected motivational music can lead to positive affective response during exercise and increase the enjoyment of patients from exercises in cystic fibrosis
4Art As a Humanizer of Medical Care
While the signs and symptoms of cystic fibrosis are typically expressed in terms of pulmonary function, X-rays, blood tests, etc. The impact of respiratory illness on the individual can also be reflected in the stories they tell. One study looked at the way respiratory illness is portrayed in arts and literature.
We assert that novels, poems, movies, music, and paintings may represent a rich, experiential understanding of the patient’s point of view of asthma, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, and tuberculosis. Examination of these works illustrates the broad range and major impact of respiratory illness on patients’ quality of life. We suggest that examining how illness is represented in various art forms may help patients, their social environment, and their health care providers in coping with the illness and in humanizing medical care.
5Storytelling in Children with Cystic Fibrosis
According to one study the art of storytelling or narrative therapy is underutilized in children with respiratory issues.
Storytelling is perennial, and central to the human condition. Although illness may shatter identity and one’s role and place in the broader social world, narrative may aid in the process of self-reparation. Despite the merits of the narrative approach, it has been underutilized with children who are living with cystic fibrosis. The findings beg researchers to consider (a) how children with life-limiting diseases borrow multiple illness narrative types, (b) the role of development in influencing the kinds of stories that children can tell, and (c) the impact of illness narratives on physical activity.
If you have an illness, what role does art and music play in your recovery or in your quality of life? Does your local hospital have an art or music therapy program or a poet-in-residence that helps the children and adults who use the hospital? Are you an artist or musician who can volunteer their time with children with respiratory illnesses?