Music therapy program helping patients at Phoenix Children's Hospital

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- As of Thursday, phoenix children's hospital will now staff two music therapists, full time.
Before Thursday, only one therapist worked part-time at the hospital, and one family says this is a big move, as the music creates a calming effect for patients.

The music therapist says she uses music every day in her job to help work toward non-musical goals, helping someone medically through music, and the findings are impressive.

Carter Johnson is two years old, and he's already come a long way from his day of birth. He was born with a heart that wasn't as strong as it should have been.

"So, the heart wasn't squeezing well enough to generate enough cardiac output to deliver oxygen to his brain and his liver and his kidneys and his muscles," said Dr. Steve Zangwill. "Over time, as the heart continues to fail, those other organs are at risk for failure."

Johnson says Carter's older sister, Vivian, who is almost four years old, was diagnosed with the same thing when she was younger. The two have since undergone a heart transplant, and are doing much better now.

"He's doing awesome. He's done nothing but this this since hes come home," said Johnson, while gesturing with her hands in an upward motion, signaling that her son is doing better since he returned home. "Every week, he makes more milestones. As a matter of fact, sometimes everyday. It's like, 'oh, he's doing this today.'"

One difference is Carter got the aid of a music therapist.

"Carter, he's a real special guy," said Julie Renato, the music therapist at PCH. "Everyone responds to music, but he really responded to music."

Renato would see Carter three times a week when he was a patient at the hospital. She said on good days, he would interact with her. On rough days prior to surgery, he couldn't do much physically, but the music still made a big impact on him.

"One of the coolest things about what I do is that you can see on the monitor, his heart rate coming down. He's relaxing," said Renato.

It's a unique position that Phoenix Children's Hospital started offering a year ago, and Lisa says it made a huge difference during the time she spent at PCH.

"There were times she would just hum a lullaby to him, if he was too sick," said Johnson. "He would recognize her, and that was enough for him. You saw his whole body calm as she did it. I would have loved to have her there everyday."