Turn on, Tune in … Relax with Comfort Channel 39
A mother sits at the end of an ICU bed where her son lies with a closed head injury, a neck brace and a lot of unknowns about how or if he’ll make it. While listening to the beeping monitors and staff hustling around outside the room, she worries and waits.
She’s tired and stressed. She turns on the TV and finds peaceful music and images that calm her nerves. She’s finally able to relax and falls asleep.
“When we’re stressed, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine are released, which increase blood pressure and muscle tension and divert blood flow from our gut—all of which cause strain on the body,” says Claudia Ogden, R.N., holistic nurse in the Division of Rheumatology. “When we do activities that elicit the relaxation response, we emit acetylcholine, which turns off the stress response.”
And that’s why Ogden—while working in the U-M Integrative Medicine Clinical Services, now part of Family Medicine—thought it would be a great idea to develop healing and relaxing TV programming.
With funding from a Fostering Innovations Grant, Ogden and Monica Myklebust, M.D., former director of U-M Integrative Medicine Clinical Services, partnered with Michigan Productions and community and UMHS staff artists and health professionals to create the Comfort Channel—24-hour programming of relaxing sounds and images available in all inpatient rooms. The Comfort Channel—channel 39—provides the opportunity to “tune-in” at bedside for programming that promotes relaxation, eases worries and soothes sleeplessness.
The first two-hour segment, “Healing Music,” became available in August 2005. A board-certified music therapist was hired to choose music specifically for its healing qualities and broad appeal. Images were carefully created for a relaxing effect on an audience unique to health care. Comfort Channel is just one of dozens of programs and services developed with FIGs funding since the program began in 2005.