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Label: hospitals

Wednesday 10th September 2014The Healing Power of Art

There has always been a natural distinction between art and science - even the language reflects the difference. But in a trend that surprises some, recently published studies have been combined with some more traditionally-accepted doctrines in the medical world's view of the value of art, and many hospitals are beginning to take special note of the potential healing powers of art. Not in the sense of touching the Shroud of Turin and being healed of all your worldly ills, but rather in carefully controlled situations that demonstrate the way in which art affects the human mind, and how the psychological effects can be harnessed to improve healing and recovery times.

According to a report on the phenomenon by NBC News, 40% of hospitals in the United States have incorporated some time of artwork or art installation into their design philosophy and architecture, many going as far as including outdoor gardens and turning hallways into miniature museums of contemporary works.

The phenomenon isn't limited to the American health care industry, however. A study performed in 2011 by the University of London measuring the neurological impacts of viewing art found that seeing a piece of art that resonated with us caused an increased blood flow to the area of the brain that research has linked to the feeling of joy, the same response that occurs when we see the face of a loved one. This really drives home the neurological impact of art.

"If an art installation gets a patient out of his room or paintings take a person's mind off their pain and lower their stress levels, the art isn't just decorative anymore," said Dr. Lisa Harris of Eshkinazi Health, who also oversees a large art-based development fund affiliated with the  Indiana University School of Medicine.

A similar experience at the Cleveland Clinic's Arts and Medicine Institute showed that 60% of patients showed a reduction in stress markers as a result of the contemporary art collection they house, which is one of the most extensive collections of any hospital. They were inspired to begin this project thanks to a pioneering study done 30 years ago that illustrated that something as basic as the view out a patients window can have an impact on their recovery times and subjective pain management choices. Patients who saw trees out their window fared much better than those who had to look at a brick wall, and the principle has been carried over - successfully, it would appear - to the inclusion of art in public hospitals.

Surely you'll all agree - the more art, the better!
 

Posted on September 10th 2014 on 05:16pm
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