ON HIS HOSPITAL BED, Élio closes his eyes. He listens Emma , from the group Matmatah, his favorite music, Breton rock very popular at the end of the 1990s. However, the little boy does not sing. “Even though he’s usually rather talkative,” laments Estelle, her mother sitting next to her. His feet don’t even beat the beat of the song. The only movement in the piece comes from his mother, who exerts light pressure on her son’s body. A hand on the knee, then on the arm… Estelle follows to the letter the instructions of Laure Bayon, the music therapist at the Émile-Roux hospital, Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire), standing in front of her.
“We create a sound envelope that allows the child to feel safe,” explains the professional in a low voice. Suddenly, as if emerging from a latent state, a slight humming sound is heard. Elio’s. It lasted a few seconds, enough time to make his mother smile again. After several days of treatment, the 8-year-old boy, affected by a loss of speech after a brain problem, finally seems calm.
A gentle rain of notes
Laure notices these effects at each session. Music therapy improves hospitalization conditions on a physiological and relational level, and stimulates intellectual and cognitive functions. For more than a year, the specialist has been coming to the hospital every Friday to offer a break to young pediatric and neonatology patients. As well as parents, often exhausted and stressed by the situation.
Laure’s day starts at 11 a.m. Nadège Brun, educator for young children, waits for him in his office to discuss patients interested in his services. Pathology, family situation, hospitalization conditions… Laure writes everything in her notebook. “You have to adapt the session to each patient,” she explains. The two women talk about Adam, a 12-year-old with multiple disabilities, equipped with a nasal mask to breathe. The therapist knows how to approach the session: with Adam, it’s time for breathing exercises. For thirty minutes, she reproduces all the sounds emitted by the child, from stammering to groans. “I open other channels of communication, because just because he doesn’t talk doesn’t mean he can’t communicate. »
Same story in neonatology where Amela gave birth to premature twins a few days ago. Here, Laure creates a sound envelope of soft and soothing notes. “We are going to secure these newborns who arrived a little earlier than expected in a world full of invasive sounds,” she explains to the parents.
Connected by sounds
With curiosity, Amela and her partner Julian discover the koshi carillon, a wind instrument made from wood. “A very nice discovery,” says the father. The birth was harder for the second boy. » If they were unaware of this therapy, young parents recognize the benefits of music on their children.
Although little studied in France, the physiological effects of music therapy on newborns have already been highlighted. In 2019, the University of Geneva published a study demonstrating how music specially composed for toddlers strengthens the development of their brain networks. An observation also established by David Soulier, senior health executive at Émile-Roux hospital. “Laure awakens the senses, which promotes good neurological growth in the child. » Nadège Brun agrees: “Music constitutes mediation, in the same way as art. Quite down to earth by nature, I was surprised by the effects on babies: they started to smile, for example, even though they had never done so before. »
Music therapy therefore complements medical care. Decrease in heart rate, oxygen requirement… David draws up a non-exhaustive list of positive effects. But more importantly, music therapy establishes a necessary relationship between the child and his parents. “In neonatology, parents often feel guilty for what happens to their little one,” he says. Music allows them to reestablish communication with him. » Or how to decenter pain thanks to the fourth art.
Recipes for success
- Exotic instruments. During the sessions, instruments with crystalline chords are favored. Kalimba or vribratone create a soothing sensory envelope.
- An active association. Created in November 2021 by Laure and five friends, the Nourris’son association organizes one charity event per year to finance music therapy sessions in hospital centers.
- Approved training courses. Music therapy is organized around its French Federation, which brings together six approved training centers and all affiliated practitioners.