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Relaxing Melody

Coping with chronic pain is sweet music to her ears

July 17, 2018 Digital Media Exclusive

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Kathryn Cotter sings a relaxing melody about a tree at her music therapy class Wednesday at Butler Health Systems Crossroads Campus.

Butler Health System is leveraging the power of music.

Kathryn Cotter, who owns a private music therapy practice in Butler, has partnered with the health system to offer her brand to those suffering from chronic illness.

Cotter, who received her bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock University, is a board certified musical therapist. She said the profession has been around since World War II, when it was used to help returning veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.

Cotter said her therapy groups can vary depending on the need of participants. She said the focus on chronic illness has a specific but comfortable regiment that involves patients learning to use instruments for coping skills or listening to music to work on rhythmic breathing.

Cotter said the therapy helps with both physical and emotional pain, and breathing is a big part of the holistic approach. She sees patients who suffer from fibromyalgia, cancers and autoimmune diseases, among many other chronic illnesses.

Janna Panther, director of marketing for BHS, said Cotter's group is a bit outside-the-box, but added the Palliative Care Unit is constantly looking for new ways to help their patients.

“It's nice to test the water and put these things out there,” Panther said.

She said the unit has also discussed developing more uses for the music therapy sessions.

Read the full story in the Summer Health & Fitness section of Tuesday's Butler Eagle.

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Nathan Bottiger

Nathan Bottiger

Nathan Bottiger graduated with a degree in journalism in 2015 from Pitt-Johnstown. A business reporter, he also covers Slippery Rock borough, township and school district.