Arts Therapy Improves Recovery and Cuts Medical Expenditures

With hallway after hallway of white walls and the monotonous beeping of medical machines, the inside of a hospital doesn’t really seem like the best kind of environment to recuperate and recover.

Strolling through Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, however, is a different story. Instead of plain walls, there are paintings and replacing the noise of bedside machines are the sounds of musical instruments.

Unusual, right? Well, all of this is due to the Cleveland Clinic embracing a new form of medicine: arts therapy. Working in conjunction with the Global Arts and Medicine Institute, run by Iva Fattorini, this top-notch medical facility is redefining traditional hospital protocol.

According to Fattorini, incorporating the arts into the hospitals is beneficial to everyone, as it can facilitate the healing process and potentially lower hospital costs, according to Fast Company.

Research has shown that when patients participate in arts therapy, hospital stays are shortened and patients require less medication for pain, as well as overall have a more positive experience. For example, after a patient has suffered a stroke, music is often used to reintroduce speech and numb extreme pain.

The same positiveness is true for employees who are more satisfied going to and leaving work.

Lining the 24 million square feet of clinic wall space are 5,200 original art pieces and 1,500 posters and prints. The hospital also offers daily music performances and delivers the arts bedside through 400 hours of music therapy and 200 hours of art therapy each week.

All of this isn’t just for the patients, though. For Fattorini, it’s a resource for the family and friends of patients as well. These people sit for hours or wander the halls, nervously awaiting the results and fate of loved one — and peaceful music or a serene piece of artwork can be a nice break from reality.

Fattorini isn’t content for this to just exist in Cleveland. She recently formed the social enterprise, Artocene, to spread arts therapy to hospitals across the country and throughout the world.

“The need to direct human emotions at a time of human uncertainty is very ubiquitous and people really appreciate it when it comes from the caregivers,” Fattorini tells Fast Company. “It’s about teamwork between artists, surgeons, architects, consultants, and investors together.”

And for people going through a tough time, sometimes a little touch of humanity is all that’s needed.