By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – They say music soothes the soul, but at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, staff members believe it can do wonders for the body as well.

Melissa Penny is serenaded with the song “You Are My Sunshine.” The 89-year-old Penny can sing along.

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“Brings back memories,” Penny told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

The music takes her mind off the fall that landed her in the hospital and it prompts an emotional moment when she grips the hand of her daughter.

“I have four daughters and I was glad I could share this with her,” said Penny.

Melissa Penny (credit: CBS)

The “P/SL Heartstrings” strike a chord with Penny. It is a band of three registered nurses — Brant Miller on banjo, Daniel Rule on the upright bass, Angie Appel on guitar and vocals and Dr. Lela Mansoori sings.

“I just think that music is therapy for the soul and we have to treat the whole patient not just the disease,” said Mansoori.

So at least once a month, the Heartstrings take their passion for playing to patients dealing with pain, anxiety and even the fear of death.

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“We wanted to bring hope to these places and music, we found, is one of the most incredible ways to do that,” said Appel.

Shawn Petersburg, 53, has been in P/SL for 5 weeks fighting leukemia. He’s from Sheridan, Wyoming.

“You know my wife and kids are up there,” he said choking back tears.

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Petersburg’s personal, mini concert made his day.

“Actually it’s the best part of my stay,” he said.

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For the band members, seeing faces light up and stress melt away, for even just a moment, affirms their belief that music is powerful medicine.

There is more and more evidence that music therapy can reduce anxiety before a medical procedure, quell nausea from chemotherapy and decrease pain.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

  1. davidlandau says:

    Music therapy is definitely emotionally and physiologically healing. Plenty of studies have shown this to be the case and it should become more of a mainstream component to medicinal healing.

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