Music therapy aids teens' healing journey

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Confined to isolation in a hospital with a life-threatening illness is a frightening place to be. (WLS)

Confined to isolation in a hospital with a life-threatening illness is a frightening place to be. But that's where four teens in San Francisco not only overcame their fears and sickness, but emerged alive and much more famous than when they went in.

It was a chart-topper even before she was born, but 17-year-old Clara Jackson used the song as a key piece of her recovery from an illness that could have killed her.

"They weren't just away at the hospital being sick. They were away at the hospital and creating something," said Matt Logan, Music Therapist at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Clara and three other teens had bone marrow transplants to live. That meant eight weeks of isolation. But a San Francisco music therapist used Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" to raise each teen's spirits as well as connecting them.

"We have the ability to take our recording studio and go remote with it. I could go to each of their rooms and record. And we were able to layer this and combine it in such a way that it created this whole piece," Logan said.

"I think it was cool listening to all the voices when we started recording it. I wasn't going to do it because I was shy. And then my mom was like this is a once in a lifetime thing," said Clara.

"When every time we see him come around with his music and his guitar and it was like 'I know we're going to have a good time,'" said Martha Jackson, Clara's mom.

Music therapy is designed to help hospital patients think beyond their immediate surroundings and to hope for a better tomorrow. Research has shown it not only releases negative emotions, it improves heart rates and breathing.

"I think having music in a room will transform anyone," said Jessica Manning, Social Worker at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

"It made me feel better. Put a smile on my face," said Clara.

Clara shared the recording with her family and, after she was released from isolation, she was able to meet the rest of her special hospital 'quartet.'

"It was cool. Now we got four new friends," she said.

The University of California San Francisco Hospital also recorded a music video of the quartet of patients-turned-singers and provided it to the patients so that they can share with family and friends. In addition to bone marrow transplants, music therapists, like Matt, work to treat anything from motor skill problems to stress.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at
Related Topics:
healththerapymusicbone marrowchildren's health