Trinity teenager published in UK medical journalDoug Conway
A broken arm and a dislocated knee suffered during lunchtime football and cricket games at school turned out to be the first painful steps in Daniel K (11Du) co-authoring a paper published in a respected British medical journal.
Daniel, 17, had found that listening to music had a therapeutic effect which helped him cope with the pain and trauma of his hospital visits.
When he mentioned this in chatting with his cousin, a trainee doctor, last Christmas they started wondering if any research had been done on the topic.
Many studies had been conducted but they embarked on a joint project to collate it all methodically and scientifically, and present their findings in one paper.
Much to their surprise and delight, that paper documenting the power of music in healing has now been published by the British Journal Of Surgery.
Daniel, who is studying the heavily research-based IB at Trinity, started playing cello in primary school before moving up to double bass in high school, performing in the Trinity Symphony Orchestra as well as the Sinfonietta.
“I have been involved in music my whole life, and I have been in hospital a few times, so I know how it can help you when you are in pain,” he said.
“You become happier and more positive. I have seen that in others, too, such as my grandpa.
“Music takes your mind off the pain and helps you through recovery without the adverse side-effects of opioids and other drugs,” said Daniel, whose own preferred listening was rap and classical.
The research idea took off during a visit to Sydney last Christmas by his cousin Joshua Kovoor, a trainee doctor and medical researcher at the University of Adelaide, and ended up with their paper, Sounds Like A Good Idea.
For Daniel, it was a side project purely for fun but he enjoyed working on an academic venture with his cousin and his PhD supervisor, Professor Guy Maddern, an Adelaide liver surgeon.
The paper found there was strong evidence that music assisted people with pain and anxiety management, and that personal music devices were the best means of delivery as people did not get benefit from listening to music they did not enjoy.
It was also a low-cost solution as most people had devices and headphones, and live music was too impractical for many reasons.
“The supervisor guided Josh on how to mentor me,” said Daniel, whose coup sparked considerable media interest, including a live TV cross from the School on Channel Ten.
“He was able to suggest what kind of things to look for, how and where to search, how to gather the evidence that was already out there, and the processes you need to write a paper.
“It was for a literature review, so it was all about collating the evidence.”
They looked at studies from all around the world, including Britain, The Netherlands and Hong Kong, and a few in Australia.
Daniel said it was a “bit of a shock” to learn the paper was being published. There wasn’t too much time to celebrate because he was busy preparing for Trinity’s June Gala Concert.
He is uncertain where life after school will take him but is interested in “something research-based”.
Prof Maddern compared post-operative music to the introduction of in-flight entertainment on planes.
“There are a lot of really quite simple things that could be done to make the surgical experience better,” he said.
“If you do that they (patients) are more relaxed and may not need the same pain relief.”