Author: Nazemi, Mehdi
Chronic pain, which can last months to years, is considered to be a progressive and multifactorial disease that has been the subject of study for centuries. Chronic pain emerges long after the process of tissue healing might have occurred, and results from complex interplay amongst several antecedents. Because the disease is incurable, the primary approach is that of “managing” chronic pain, which includes both short-term and long-term forms of neuroplasticity enabled by non-invasive therapeutic practices. It is not a surprise that the strong mind-body connection has inspired researchers and practitioners to use music and environmental sounds as a tool for healing. The approach for using music and environmental sounds in clinical settings has begun to grow, yet the focus of its use is limited when it comes to chronic pain management. Emphasis on the act of listening rather than simply hearing has been shown to have therapeutic effects in a number of contexts, such as traumatic brain injuries, and dementia. As part of this research, we are examining the potential effects act of listening has on patients suffering from chronic pain. This research explores an approach of using soundscapes as therapy to help chronic pain patients manage their pain and anxiety. A review of literature in pain studies, auditory perception, music therapy, acoustic ecology, and immersion was conducted in developing a systematic approach for using soundscapes as a form of therapeutic intervention. In addition, three separate experiments were conducted with chronic pain patients to support the findings of this form of therapy, including future directions for improvement.
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Thesis advisor: Gromala, Diane
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