Expressive therapies are a major part of the care at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. It includes music, dance, and art therapies for children and can even be done in a patient’s room if they can’t leave due to their medical treatments.
Primary Children’s therapists say this type of therapy can have a profound impact on the health and overall wellbeing of a child receiving care.
“For many young kids and teens, it can be hard to express their emotions when going through something difficult like treatment of a medical issue,” said Sarah Lo, music therapist at Primary Children’s Hospital. “We give them an outlet to talk about how they’re feeling and do something that brings them joy.”
14-year-old Sophia Mousques and her family know the benefits of music therapy firsthand as she has been in and out of Primary Children’s Hospital since she was born. Sophia has Down syndrome, and doctors discovered she also had a heart defect while she was still in the womb. She had her first heart surgery at 3 weeks old, and at 4 years old she battled leukemia the first time. In 2020, she had surgery to remove a brain tumor that turned out to be not cancerous, but in May of this year, her leukemia returned. However, her latest scan found she was cancer free.
Sophia struggled during her many times in the hospital, but her parents Claudia and Nelson Mousques, say things began to change once she started music therapy in her hospital bed. Her mood improved and so did all her vital signs, which before that were at unhealthy levels. Sophia has since added dance therapy, and her parents say she’s excited to come to the hospital. Her parents say she even sings and dances at home to her favorite music, K-Pop. Her parents believe without music and dance therapy Sophia wouldn’t have survived.
Expressive therapies at Primary Children’s Hospital are free to all patients and the therapists work at the hospital full time. The program is made possible through donations.