East Tennessee Children's Hospital is using music therapy to help physical and social needs for their tiniest patients.

ETCH's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit started implementing the therapy in October 2017.

Joni Pappas is a certified music therapist with the Pain and Palliative Care and says the music therapy has two benefits.

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"In the NICU, music therapy has a two-fold process," Pappas said. "It's to use live music interventions to help promote optimal physical and neurological growth and also to work with the parents to help increase secure attachment."

In music therapy, parents learn to use different voices and intonations to help soothe their child and develop a healthy bonding experience.

According to a journal from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, after four studies using the music therapy in a NICU, the results were promising and may be helpful during interventions with infants.

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"We know through research that live music is best because you're able to meet the needs of any patient," Pappas said. "When we're talking the NICU, of premature infants in the moment, whatever their needs may be - If we need to decrease the vital signs, helping with self-regulation, helping with non-nutritive sucking."

Pappas said the music helps the premature infants with feeding and gaining weight, which helps the babies get their vital signs to a normal level.

"The music mimics the rocking sensation in utero, so it's a familiar feel and sound with the tempo of the music that is used typically to a lullaby," Pappas said. "And on that, just helps to calm the baby."

The Pain and Palliative Care Service provided by East Tennessee Children's Hospital works to enhance a child's quality of life as well as the family's. Services provided are made possible through private donations to the service.