Learn to Shuffle

Cancer Center lends iPods, instruction

Jayne Knoff helps Michael Manning learn to use an ipod
Volunteer Jayne Knoff helps patient Michael Manning learn to use an iPod.

To reserve an iPod or an iTouch or if you have questions, call 734-647-8626.

Michael Manning and Jayne Knoff bow their heads over the ipod, looking through the list of songs

"I never heard of a Johnny Cash song called 'Shuffle,'" Manning says.

Knoff explains that the "Shuffle" button at the top of the list isn't a song, but a button that will mix up the order of the songs in the playlist. Manning chuckles and keeps asking questions.

The Patient Education Resource Center is now lending iPods, and they come with something better than instruction manuals: the iPod Squad. Knoff, a University of Michigan pre-med student, is a member of that squad. She walks the halls of University Hospital's cancer units, handing out iPods and teaching borrowers to use them.

"Many of our patients have never used an iPod until this program," said PERC Librarian Ruti Volk. "Sometimes they're reluctant or apprehensive, but we've had patients come in and say, 'Now I understand why my grandchildren like it so much.'"

The iPods come loaded with a wide variety of music; National Public Radio programs including "Fresh Air" and "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me"; educational podcasts about cancer; and a few videos, including "The Last Lecture," by Randy Pausch. Many of the iPods are Touch models, offering Internet access via the Cancer Center's guest WiFi network in outpatient areas.

The music was selected as part of the PERC's new CD-lending service, Healing Music to Go. Cancer Center music therapist Megan Gunnell selected about 50 CDs, including classical, pop, jazz, folk, new age, rock and country music. The iPods include 18 of the CDs, which were chosen to offer patients a way to reduce stress, increase relaxation and improve emotional coping and comfort through music.

"It helps to have a diversion to help with highly anxious times, especially if waiting is involved," Gunnell said. "We want to do whatever we can to reduce that burden. Having access to music that is familiar or soothing can help."

Thanks to a donation from the Coon family, patients and families in outpatient areas may borrow iPods in the PERC, on Level B-1. Outpatient lending requires a valid driver's license be left in lieu of the device; all iPods must be returned by 5 p.m. On inpatient units, the lending period is 24 hours. If a patient would like to continue to use an iPod the next day, another fully charged device is delivered to the room.

All iPods are cleaned after each use and stored in sterile bags. Disposable ear bud covers are provided. Manning, a 49-year-old Bay City resident who has melanoma, said he's been listening a lot to the Eagles and Johnny Cash on the iPod during his hospital stay for melanoma treatment.

"I don't sleep at all, sometimes. The chemo gets to me, and this helps," he said. "If you've gotta be in here, it helps to be in a comfortable environment with the music."

When Chemo is Your Desert Island

We want to know what's on your iPod. What do you like to listen to when you want to calm frazzled nerves? Or, when you're trying to get over the wall of fatigue? Please visit: playlist.com and let us know!

Never downloaded music before? Print out our How to Use Playlist.com guide - opens as a pdf.

To reserve an iPod or an iTouch or if you have questions, call 734-647-8626.

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Thrive Issue: 
Fall, 2008