COPD: Harmonicas for Better Health?

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DALLAS, TX. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affects 30 million people in the United States, and smoking is the leading cause. Now, a new therapy program is designed to improve the lives and lungs of people with COPD.

It’s not easy for John Moberly and his wife to get around.  She was already sick herself when John started having problems with COPD. Now, to help his breathing, he uses oxygen, and a harmonica.

“You’re blowing and drawing so you’re exercising your muscles, your diaphragm,” Moberly explained.

This is Harmonicas for Health. The music therapist teaches a class of COPD patients the correct way to breathe to make notes and familiar songs. Therapists say playing harmonica exercises muscles needed to pull air in and push air out of the lungs. It also strengthens abdominal muscles for a better cough, helping patients clear the lungs. Researchers are measuring health benefits over a 12 week period.

Mary Hart, Project Manager and COPD Educator at Baylor University Medical Center said, “We haven’t finished the study yet. But we are seeing significant improvement in muscle strength and the six-minute walk test. That’s how far they can walk in six minutes.” (Read Full Interview)

Emma Johnson has trouble inhaling, and depends on her oxygen tank and her harmonica playing friends.

Johnson shared, “I can do this and it helps me. It’s enjoyable, put it like that.”

“I’ve met people in this harmonica class that will be friends of mine till the day that I die. And I love them all,” Moberly told Ivanhoe.

There is no cure for COPD, but where there is music science suggests there may be better breathing and better health.

Harmonicas for Health is supported by the COPD foundation and the Academy of Country Music. Earlier studies have shown the benefits of playing wind instruments, like clarinets and trumpets, on patients with chronic lung conditions.

Contributors to this news report include: Don Wall, Field Producer; Mark Montgomery, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Robert Walko, Editor.

 

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MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS

RESEARCH SUMMARY

 

TOPIC:            COPD: HARMONICAS FOR BETTER HEALTH?

REPORT:        MB #4422

 

BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus production and wheezing. It’s caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common conditions that contribute to COPD. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs of the lungs. Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli at the end of the smallest air passages of the lungs are destroyed as a result of damaging exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritating gases and particulate matter.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/copd/symptoms-causes/syc-20353679)

 

TREATMENT: Most people have mild forms of the disease for which little therapy is needed other than smoking cessation. Even for more advanced stages of disease, effective therapy is available that can control symptoms, reduce your risk of complications and exacerbations, and improve your ability to lead an active life. Doctors use several kinds of medications to treat the symptoms and complications of COPD. Bronchodilators are medications that usually come in an inhaler and relax the muscles around your airways. Inhaled or oral steroids may be prescribed, or a combination inhaler that combines bronchodilators and inhaled steroids.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/copd/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353685)

 

NEW RESEARCH: Mary Hart, a Research Project Manager and Registered Respiratory Therapist at Baylor University Medical Center is using harmonicas to help COPD patients. Hart says the COPD Foundation came up with the harmonica program. She explained why playing the harmonica can help: “when you play the harmonica you have to pucker. When you COPD one of the ways that you relieve your shortness of breath or calm down when you get panicked and when you can’t breathe, is to take in a deep breath through your nose and blow out through pursed or puckered lips.” COPD patients may have dynamic hyperinflation, where they can breathe in normally, but have trouble breathing out. The harmonica therapy can strengthen the muscles needed to do this.

(Source: Mary Hart)

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, PLEASE CONTACT:

Susan Hall, PR

214-566-2589

susan.hall@bswhealth.org

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Mary Hart

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