VIBROACOUSTICS-WHAT IS IT?

  What is Vibroacoustic Music?

Vibroacoustics-from vibro-to vibrate-and acoustics---to hear-is an innovative technology in which music and/or sound vibrations are felt as well as heard. The sound vibrations are administered through specially-designed speakers or transducers built into a recliner, bean bag chair, mattress, pad, table or other equipment-even a floor and wall! There are numerous benefits to health and well-being from the experience of feeling the sound vibrations as you relax onto vibroacoustic equipment.

Vibroacoustic technology has experienced widespread use in hospitals, healthcare facilities, wellness programs, education, and corporate organizations as well as being used extensively in private settings. Vibroacoustic technologies were first developed in Scandinavia between 1970 and 1980 independently by Olav Skille and Petri Lehikoinen. The U.S.-based Somatron Corporation began distributing designs in 1985. Since then, the technology has continued to evolve with new and more refined designs. See the Somatron models in our Vibroacoustic Equipment catalog and links for other currently marked models in our Links section. Find out more about the history, technology development and research in our Articles section.

   What are the benefits of vibroacoustic
        technology?

Research and clinical programs have reported that vibroacoustics provides a wide variety of mental and physical benefits. Vibroacoustics has been found to:

  • reduce stress
  • facilitate the Relaxation Response
  • increase quality of life
  • decrease the experience of pain
  • reduce nausea, headache, anxiety, fatigue and depression
  • calm and soothe restless behavior
  • relax muscular hyper-tauticity
  • improve range of motion
  • promote muscle tone
  • offer auditory and physical stimulation
  • enhance communication skills
  • develop sensory awareness
  • promote a feeling of calmness
  • enhance music appreciation

Research has provided clear data on these outcomes of vibroacoustics but there are other effects that have not yet been quantified or perhaps even identified. Scientific research continues to investigate the effects that vibroacoustics have on body chemistry, brain wave frequencies, pain suppression, and a number of other responses. This research will bring a greater understanding of the effects of sound vibration. Specific information about vibroacoustic effects and research is provided in our Research and Articles sections.

  How does it work?

The physical experience of sound vibrations combined with the use of calming music in vibroacoustic therapy has beneficial effects both physically and psychologically. The mechanisms behind these effects are not fully understood although it is clear that the vibroacoustic music experience triggers the Relaxation Response, a mind/body response with a myriad of positive health benefits.

Olaf Skille, one of the original creators of vibroacoustic technology, presents a theory that builds on the work of Drs. Karel and Heda Jindrak exploring the concept that physical vibrations of sound provide an internal cleansing massage. Sound vibrations conducted throughout the body from our own vocal sounds (and vibroacoustic music) actually vibrate cells, organs, brain structures and tissues. It is speculated that this stimulation may help eliminate cellular wastes and assist in cleansing the body of these and other toxins. If this is true, vibroacoustic music and the vocal sounds we make may be the only ways we can actually get an internal massage!

Research has also demonstrated that vibroacoustics can work within the effective range of a vibration-induced, natural pain-suppressing mechanism of the Pacinian Corpuscles, pressure-sensitive nerve endings located in the subcutaneous and connective tissues surrounding visceral organs and joints. Kris Chesky, Director of Education and Research of the Texas Center for Music and Medicine at the University of North Texas, conducted research and correlated information about this natural process and vibroacoustics, reinforcing the concept that vibroacoustics can trigger this pain-mediating mechanism.

Existing scientific research helps us to understand why vibroacoustics can reduce stress, pain and disease symptoms but there is much more to learn. More in-depth information about vibroacoustic effects is provided in our Research and Articles section.

  The Relaxation Response

A primary outcome of the vibroacoustic music experience is the facilitation of a state of deep relaxation. Triggered by what is called the Relaxation Response, this mental, physical, and emotional state is characterized by lowered blood pressure decreased heart, breathing, and metabolic rates and mind/body coherence. Harvard professor Dr. Herbert Benson, the founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Boston's Deaconess Hospital, coined this term. He found that the Relaxation Response yields many long-term health benefits in addition to the immediate effects created during the experience. The relaxing effect of music alone is well-known and used extensively in music therapy.

The combination of relaxing physical vibration and soothing music is a dynamic method to trigger the natural healing mechanisms of our body!

  What does the Relaxation Response do?

You can trigger the Relaxation Response in many ways. Tai Chi, meditation, prayer and Yoga are among the numerous wellness modalities known to facilitate relaxation. Regardless of the method used, the physical and mental changes are similar. When the mind becomes focused and free from intrusive, worrisome or anxiety-laden thoughts, the autonomic nervous system responds by stabilizing and down-regulating (slowing down) the heart rate, blood pressure and breath as well as relaxing muscle tone and reducing the production of stress hormones.

Physiologically, the relaxation response initiates the following changes:

reduces oxygen consumption (hypometabolism)
decreases blood pressure
slows heart rate
slows respiration rate
relaxes muscles

Mentally, deep relaxation:

changes brain wave frequencies (generally slowing down   from beta to alpha and alpha to theta or delta)
clears the mind from anxiety
creates a feeling of calm and peacefulness

A particularly positive side effect of using vibroacoustics to get into the relaxation response is a long term benefit---the more people use this technology the more they learn to recognize the state of relaxation and, over time, become able to reach relaxation at will. Vibroacoustics is a great way to learn how to relax and develop relaxation as a daily habit!

  THE SOMATRON PAIN AND ANXIETY
       MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

The Somatron Corporation offers a field-tested program using vibroacoustic music to reduce pain and anxiety. This includes an instruction manual and four vibroacoustic music recordings. The manual provides information on how to develop and manage a pain and anxiety management program based on successful programs demonstrating over 50% reduction of pain, anxiety and stress-mediated symptoms. Instructions for completing a program evaluation are included in the manual and are useful for reporting pain management practices to JCAHO and for internal quality control. The four vibroacoustic music recordings in the program were designed and tested for use in pain and anxiety management. Training and assistance in program development is also available. Click here for more information.

   A Clinically Proven Non-Pharmacological Pain
        and Anxiety Management Tool

In a program at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers attained more than 50% reduction of pain and other symptoms using Somatron vibroacoustic technology. A program evaluation study, published in 1999, revealed a reduction of pain and other symptoms between 49% and 59% at the NIH. Because of this success, the Somatron vibroacoustic program has been an ongoing patient and family treatment offering at the NIH for over eight years and continues to obtain these effective results.

The NIH evaluation monitored pain and symptoms in 267 patients hospitalized for a variety of illnesses including cancer and cardiac-related issues. Patients were given the opportunity to use the Somatron recliner for a 45-minute vibroacoustic session that included a 10-minute introduction to the process with a short guided relaxation exercise and 10 minutes of debriefing. Using the TheraSound Balance recording, patients experienced Somatron vibroacoustics for approximately 25 minutes. Pre and post self-evaluations were given using two measurement tools. The chart below shows pain and other symptom reduction percentages from this study.

Symptom Change from a Single Vibroacoustic Session at the National Institutes of Health

% Reduction

Symptom

Number of Patients

54.00 reduction of--

Tension

with 74 patients

47.36 reduction of--

Fatigue

with 60 patients

53.33 reduction of--

Pain

with 46 patients

57.54 reduction of--

Headache

with 24 patients

49.45 reduction of--

Depression

with 18 patients

56.27 reduction of--

Nausea

with 16 patients

56.27 reduction of--

Other

with 29 patients

The NIH Clinical Medical Center continues to use six Somatron vibroacoustic recliners in a specially-designed relaxation room. This program has been in continuous use since the pilot program began and results continue to be consistent with the initial findings. The program is facilitated by recreation therapists under the guidance of Dr. George Patrick, Chief of recreation therapy in the Rehabilitation Medicine Department. See full study report in our Research section.

A follow-up pilot program was conducted by Chris Boyd Brewer at Jupiter Medical Center, Jupiter, Florida. Using vibroacoustic technology in the Foshay Cancer Center, a replication of the NIH study was completed using data from 41 patients. This study intended to determine if a busy nursing staff could administer the vibroacoustic pain and anxiety management program and attain the same significant results as the NIH. Data collection was accomplished primarily by the nursing staff. Results of this pilot program were equal in success to that of the NIH and confirmed that, if set up appropriately, medical center facilities could develop and manage a successful vibroacoustic pain and anxiety management program. As a result of these findings, the Somatron Pain and Anxiety Management Manual was created to assist medical centers in developing effective vibroacoustic music programs. See the full cancer center study report in our Research section.

  Program Benefits

The Vibroacoustic Music Pain and Anxiety Management program has multiple benefits including that it:

is a non-drug, non-invasive approach to pain and anxiety
  management with no unwanted side effects
addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of
  pain
reduces anxiety as it lessens pain
can be easily and successfully used by nursing or
  administrative staff
is a one-time, cost-effective, capital expense
is research-based and has been evaluated at the National
  Institutes of Health in the Clinical Center
has demonstrated results of over 50% reduction of pain and
  anxiety
assists in demonstrating effectiveness in pain management
  to JCAHO

   About Anxiety and Tension (Stress) Reduction

Anxiety and tension are common side effects of illness and disease that patients frequently identify and medical personnel must constantly address. Research demonstrates that high anxiety levels inhibit the healing process and perhaps increase susceptibility to cardiac and immunological disorders, among other health problems.

Tension, reported by patients also as anxiety and stress, was one of the symptoms most frequently identified in the NIH vibroacoustic evaluation of pain and symptom reduction. Among the patients who identified tension as a primary symptom, an average of 54% reduction was reported from a single vibroacoustic session. The study also measured patients' state of tension-relaxation using an additional self-report tool. All 267 patients used this scale and indicated that their tension symptom was reduced by 53.4% overall.

With clinical results demonstrating a one-half reduction of tension in a single session, vibroacoustics clearly provides a significant method for handling tension without drugs or negative side-effects.