Breathe Magic is an innovative new way of delivering therapy, with integrated research, that brings together Professional Magicians and Occupational Therapists to develop specially adapted
magic hand/arm tricks that incorporate the therapeutic exercises needed for rehabilitation.
The project was initially developed for children with hemiplegia, a paralysis predominately affecting one side of the body. Children with this condition are required to repeatedly practice of a range of hand/arm exercises to develop their motor skills. Children often find these exercises frustrating and tend not to do sufficient practice to benefit. Occupational Therapists (OTs) struggle to find engaging ways to ensure the child does sufficient practice outside of the therapy sessions, meaning the young people don’t develop sufficient skill in their affected side and quality of life is seriously affected.
A small pilot study (2008) tested the feasibility of a new approach to therapy by training a team of OT’s at the Evelina Children’s Hospital London as ‘Magicians’ to enable them to teach magic to young people via a home-based delivery model. Integrated research was included to explore the clinical benefits of this programme. Initial results showed positive outcomes, so the team explored a more intensive approach, with the aim of creating sustained improvements to the young people’s motor skills, while simultaneously addressing their psychosocial needs.
A Summer Camp model was established. Breathe Magic Camps consist of 10 days of intensive 1-2-1 therapy where children with hemiplegia learn magic tricks to become young magicians, while simultaneously developing motor/bi-manual skills. The camp culminates in a magic show where the children perform alongside professional magicians. Five camps were run across the UK and Israel between 2010-2012.
An international research study shows that children significantly improved independence in daily activities (F(df 2,20) 16,00, p=0.001) and progressed from using their affected hand in 25% of bimanual activities prior to the camp, to 93% post camp and retaining this at 86% at 3-month follow-up. Data obtained from a smaller trial using Snyder’s Hope scale shows significant effects in developing ‘resilience’ and positive perceptions of their own ability (F (2,9) 4.90, p=0.036). A research paper has recently been accepted by a major health journal for publication in 2013. In summary, these results reflect positive motor and psychosocial benefits from incorporating Magic into therapeutic protocols for children and provide exciting opportunities for further research and development.
The team are currently working to get Breathe Magic commissioned as a new clinical service within the NHS. They are also piloting an adapted model of the Breathe Magic programme for adults with stroke, and children with a wider range of disabilities.
The Thackray Medical Museum is delighted to be collaborating with Breath Magic and NHS Leeds to pilot this new approach, as part of the Magic and Medicine project.