For many people, surgical recovery can be a long and arduous process. One local company, however, has been working to help. Dr. Alice Cash is the CEO and founder of Surgical Serenity Solutions, a Louisville-based company with the aim of shortening the post-surgical healing process through the application of classical music in the operating room.
While this is not what Dr. Cash expected to be doing when she was studying to be a concert pianist in the 1960s, she finds the work to be fulfilling and important, and speaks about the changes she has made in people’s lives through her work. This is why she returned to school to study musicology as well as clinical social work. In fact, it was while working as a family therapist at Baptist East Hospital in the 1990s that Dr. Cash realized the healing power that music can have. Through conducting music interventions with a wide variety of patients, she learned that “they didn’t need as much Valium, Xanax, and potentially active anxiety medications,” she explained, “they often used less anesthesia and experienced less pain.”
This experience led Dr. Cash to develop her previous company, Healing Music Enterprises, and eventually Surgical Serenity Solutions. The company contracts with medical professionals to provide headphones that have been preloaded with soothing classical music that the patient can wear and listen to throughout surgery. The concept has been met with a lot of success, not only locally, but internationally as well. Dr. Cash has been invited to talk about her work at medical conferences around the world, and her work is seen by many as a potential tool in the fight to end our dependence on prescription painkillers.
There are a number of hospitals and facilities using Dr. Cash’s musical approach to pain management. “The first really big hospital to buy into my system was the VA here in Louisville. They bought 100 of my preloaded headphones in the spring of 2014. Since then, I have gotten into other VA hospitals around the country, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Colorado,” she explains. Her headphones have also found their way into operating rooms at the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins University, and have helped hundreds of patients relax and heal through their procedures.
While there are many who believe in the healing power of music, Dr. Cash knows that many medical professionals may not be aware of the profound difference classical music can have in the healing process. To help educate doctors and patients, the company website provides a number of resources for patients who would like to talk to their doctor about the benefits that music might offer, including peer-reviewed research and a guide for starting the discussion with your doctor. There are also free sample playlists available for download, all at surgicalserenitysolutions.com.
By Vanessa Hutchison
P.S. Here’s a checklist to follow to help with the healing process.