A UCLA pediatrician believes that patient care takes more than just medicine â€” a dose of music helps too.
Dr. Raffi Tachdjian, a third-year pediatric fellow in the division of allergy and immunology at Mattel Childrenâ€™s Hospital at UCLA, founded the nonprofit Childrenâ€™s Music Fund to help bring music to his patients.
â€œMost sick children spend their evenings in the hospital playing video games or watching TV and videos,â€ said Tachdjian. â€œInstead, music can help with their sadness, pain and overall coping mechanism.â€
To help raise funds to provide new instruments and music therapy to chronically ill pediatric patients, Tachdjian has mastered a series of three CDs featuring his own tracks, as well as those of internationally renowned artists who graciously donated their music.
â€œThe newest CD, â€˜Open Your Window,â€™ is an uplifting album and incredible collaboration of some wonderful musical artists,â€ Tachdjian said. â€œThe generosity of these artists and consumer support will allow children in need find comfort through music.â€
According to Tachdjian, who is researching the effects of music in a study conducted through the Pediatric Pain Program at Mattel Childrenâ€™s Hospital, brain imaging studies have shown links between music and regions of the brain responsible for emotion, mathematics, memory and coordination.
By interacting in a musical environment, hospitalized children can develop their overall mental processes while simultaneously improving their emotional well-being.
Kids participating in the Childrenâ€™s Music Fund program can choose from guitars, keyboards and percussion instruments. If the patient does not know how to play, Tachdjian said that they will be linked with an organization that provides instruction.
To participate in and benefit from the program, patients are identified through a caregiver, medical staff or by themselves. Patients from any hospital are eligible. Tachdjian said the new instruments cost the foundation approximately $100 each.
In the future, the Childrenâ€™s Music Fund also plans to support a licensed music therapist at Mattel Childrenâ€™s Hospital.
The Childrenâ€™s Music Fund was founded in 2001, while Tachdjian was a pediatric resident in Boston.
â€œIt started with one patient whose enthusiasm came through only when I held \'mini-concerts\' for him in the playroom with other kids listening in, then playing on their respective shakers, bongos, etc.,â€ Tachdjian said. â€œWe were doing basic music therapy before I knew what that was.â€