Sonora – music therapy and… …vibrotherapy.

What does Sonora Sound Tube have to do with vibroacoustic therapy?

Sonora is not just music. The instrument is originally tuned to 64Hz. This low bass sound emitted by the Sonora causes the whole body of the instrument to resonate, or vibrate. Both the tube and the bench are made of resonant wood, which does not suppress vibrations and makes it easier for them to spread to other parts of the instrument and even the floor. The vibration is thus also transmitted to the body of the person inside. Tissues, muscles, skeletal system and body fluids vibrate. The vibration is felt on a physiological level as a gentle, pleasant massage.

Vibroacoustic therapy (VA), created by Norwegian pedagogue and therapist Olav Skille, uses sound vibrations. During the therapy session, the patient is lying on a bed specially constructed by Olav, which has built-in loudspeakers along its entire length, reproducing straight tones with a sinusoidal course in the frequency range from 30-120 Hz (the most beneficial tones are considered to be those in the 40-80 Hz frequency range).[1] These tones hit the human body directly and propagate through its tissues, muscles and bones. At the same time, these vibrations are accompanied by appropriately selected relaxing music, which the patient listens to through headphones. As the creator himself explains: The therapy influences the physiology of the body by lowering the activity level of the sympathetic nervous system and improving blood circulation, providing more oxygen to various organs and improving the transport of harmful substances from cells and intercellular spaces. (…) Improving well-being and achieving a state of relaxation are commonly reported as positive therapeutic effects.[2].

Sound itself influences human physiology and psyche. Olav has found some universal dependencies in his work. First of all, he noticed that high tones cause stress and irritation, while low tones are more pleasant and help to achieve a state of relaxation and bring relief in pain. The second rule applies to rhythm – the more rhythmic and faster the music, the more energizing it is. So music with a neutral rhythm and slow tempo will have a soothing effect. The third principle is that loud music is conducive to activation, while silent music is calming.[3] Guided by this knowledge, Olav combined the pleasant vibrations of simple low-frequency tones with relaxing music. This combination makes vibroacoustic therapy good for both spirit and body. In the course of his practice Olav noticed that different frequencies can affect different areas of the body and different parts of the muscles – higher frequencies will more easily vibrate the muscles with lower weight, while lower frequencies will be suitable for muscles with higher weight.

Vibroacoustic therapy has been positively reviewed by A. Pontvik, who noted that the use of even minimal vibrations has a calming effect on both physical and mental levels, reducing psychomotor hyperactivity. The use of vibrations perceptible at the body level also facilitates the shift of the patient’s consciousness from the outside world to the inside world.[4] Undoubtedly, music and vibration play an equally important role in achieving a state of relaxation and complement each other. Nevertheless, the introduction of vibrations into the therapy allows for additional physiological benefits, so it can also be successfully used as a field of physiotherapy. Unconfirmed data, based on 40,000 hours of Skille’s vibroacoustic therapy, describe the action of vibration as beneficial in the treatment of, among other things, ailments related to autism, migraine, muscle spasms, cerebral palsy,[5] asthma, joint and muscle pain, circulatory deficiencies and multiple sclerosis,[6] with the author himself pointing out that the therapy is not able to cure the disease, but only to alleviate its unpleasant symptoms. [7] For various ailments, a different length of session, from 10-45 minutes, is recommended, and they may be preceded by a short introduction into the state of relaxation. So far, no cases of negative or harmful effects of vibroacoustic therapy have been reported and the adverse effects observed by patients include slight sleepiness, dizziness or nausea. Contraindications for the use of VA can be acute inflammation, severe external or internal bleeding and severe heart disease or pacemaker.[8]

In vibroacoustic therapy, sound is perceived as both a vibration in physiological terms and a psychological impression. A valuable summary of scientific attempts to explain the effectiveness of this method can be found in article C. Boyd-Brewer and R. McCaffrey entitled: Viboacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, in which the authors point out that:[9] The conceptual model of music and musical vibrations for pain relief explains it as a two-part approach: involving psychological processes (listening to music) together with physiological processes (percutaneous musical vibration) activates both neural and afferent analgesic activity. In combination, these two components also integrate somatic and auditory neural activities, which can provide synergistic mechanisms in the central nervous system.[10] Currently, no single explanation can demonstrate the positive effects of vibroacoustic music in health practices. In considering how and why vibroacoustic therapy works, it is important to realize that effectiveness can come from both physical and psychological stimulation. It may happen that the synergy of the two, the mind-body combination, will make its methodology successful in relaxing and feeling pain. The three possible explanations for the positive effects of vibroacoustics are as follows:

1. Vibroacoustic music sessions induce a relaxing reaction with benefits for pain and symptoms reduction, as well as tension, fatigue, headache, nausea and depression.[11]

2. Stimulation of the Paciniana body at frequencies from 60 Hz to 600 Hz creates neural pain inhibition. (Kris Chesky, Director of Education and Research at the Texas Center for Music and Medicine at the University of North Texas, stated that vibroacoustic frequencies from 60 Hz to 600 Hz provide optimal pain relief at certain amplitudes. These frequencies are known to stimulate the Paciniana corpuscles, the nerve endings located in the skin that mediate feelings, including pain, pressure and itching). [12]

3. Vibration can support cell cleansing mechanisms with possible positive effects on health and disease. [13]

There have been discussions about the membership of vibroacoustic therapy in the field of music therapy, which seem to be still valid today. The question arises whether this therapy is closer to medicine or music therapy in its traditional sense. The author of the method himself draws attention to this problem. In his article about vibrotherapy published in Music Therapy, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1 he admits that: This is a key question, because so far, with the exception of Finland, this therapy has been rejected by established music therapy associations. Vibroacoustic therapy is mainly focused on the treatment of patients with physical complaints. And since the application of the therapy differs from “traditional” music therapy in that special equipment is needed to transmit the therapeutic medium, some music therapists may wonder whether VA therapy is actually a form of music therapy. For example, we find reports that changes in the vegetative system are identified under the influence of music, but there are few experiments in which these changes in the functioning of the vegetative system were specific objectives of the music therapy process. And although it can be said that the “traditional” application of music therapy methods affects the vegetative system, our reports from research in this particular area are partly contradictory, partly unclear, and the number of patients is too small to be statistically significant. In vibroacoustic therapy we aim directly at these changes in the hope that they will be maintained for a certain period of time and that the effects of the changes will be positive for the patient. [14] The author adds that most of the then publications on the influence of VA on physical parameters were theoretical works at the academic level. Nevertheless, today, about 30 years after the method was developed, a lot of studies confirming its action have been carried out and the medical and therapeutic environment successfully uses it to improve not only the physical condition of patients but also their mental condition. The effects of the research cited in just one article on vibrotherapy published in Holistic Nursing Practice May/June 2004 show that groups of patients with various ailments undergoing vibroacoustic therapy with relaxing music achieved much higher parameters in assessing their well-being and the level of pain or stress reduction than control groups undergoing only relaxing music therapy.[15] Vibrotherapy itself, as a field of physiotherapy, has also been carried out in Poland since 2018. Research on the influence of vibrations on human physiology is currently conducted at the Bronisław Czech Academy of Physical Education in Kraków. [16]

Based on the knowledge and experience gained from the latest research on the impact of vibroacoustic therapy on stress, pain and anxiety, it can be assumed that the vibration of the Sonora Sound Tube combined with relaxing music can have a beneficial effect on improving performance in these areas. Theories developed by Olav Skille in the 1990s about the influence of vibrations on vegetative processes and human well-being can therefore also be applied to Sonora Sound Tube therapy.

Photo: Marcin Sudak

FOOTNOTES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY:

[1] O. Skille, Manual of Vibroacoustic Therapy, 1991, [w:] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Viboacoustic Sound Therapy Iproves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 112..
[2] O. Skille, Vibroacustic Therapy [w:] Music Therapy, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1. s 62.
[3] O. Skille, Vibroacustic Therapy [w:] Music Therapy, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1. s 63.
[4] O. Skille, Vibroacoustic Therapy [w:] Music Therapy, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1. s 64.
[5] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 112.
[6] O. Skille, Vibroacoustic Therapy [w:] Music Therapy, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1. s 66-69.
[7] O. Skille, Vibroacoustic Therapy [w:] Music Therapy, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1. s 69.
[8] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 116.
[9] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 112-113.
[10] K.S. Chesky, D.E. Michel, G. Kondraske, Developing methods and techniques for scientific and medical application of music vibration, [w:] R. Spintge, R. Dron,eds. Music Medicine, Vol. 2. St. Louis: MMB Music; 1991:227-241 [za:] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 112.
[11] G. Patrick, The effects of vibroacoustic music on symptom reduction: inducting the relaxation response trough good vibrations, [w:] IEEE Eng Med Biol. March/April 1999:97-100, [za:] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 113.
[12] K.S. Chesky, D.E. Michel, G. Kondraske, Developing methods and techniques for scientific and medical application of music vibration, [w:] R. Spintge, R. Dron,eds. Music Medicine, Vol. 2. St. Louis: MMB Music; 1991:227-241 [za:] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 113.
[13] O. Skille, The effect of music, vocalization and vibration on brain and muscle tissue: studies in vibroacoustic therapy. [w:] T. Wigram, B. Saperston, R. West, eds. The Art and Science of Music Therapy: A Handbook. Amsterdam: Hardwood Academic Press; 1999:245-291 [za:] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 113.
[14] O. Skille, Vibroacoustic Therapy [w:] Music Therapy, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1. s 65.
[15] C. Boyd-Brewer i R. McCaffrey, Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More, [w:] Holistic Nursing Practice, May/June, 2004, s. 114-115.
[16] The Internet source: https://www.wibroterapia.com/series/naukowcy-o-wibroterapii/