Music is therapeutic: it has been shown to reduce anxiety in patients undergoing surgery, comfort pediatric emergency patients, and reduce chronic pain.

Now, it turns out that music can be beneficial for patients who have been on prolonged mechanical ventilation, and are trying to wean themselves off, according to a new study that was presented at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference. Patients being weaned off mechanical ventilation often experience stress, anxiety, and discomfort since they don’t have the ventilator support, but the study finds that music helps alleviate these symptoms.

“Having patients listen to music during these trials may help reduce stress and speed up extubation,” Zhang Liang, a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh and an author of the study, said in the press release.

The researchers examined 28 participants at a long-term acute care hospital who were given headsets to listen to music daily for six days during weaning trials from mechanical ventilation. They tracked the participants on days they listened to music, and on days they didn’t, and found that on music days, the patients had a significant decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate, anxiety, and dyspnea — although there was no major decrease in SpO2 or mean blood pressure. Compared to non-music days, music days had a clear beneficial impact on the patients.

However, the researchers note that more research is needed with a larger group of patients to be certain that music is indeed beneficial in weaning from mechanical ventilation.

Source: Liang Z, Yeh C, Happ M, Choi J, Hoffmann R, Hravnak M. Effect of Music Intervention During Daily Weaning Trials in Patients on Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation. ATS Journals, 2015.