Musical instrument therapy to treat long-term effects of COVID on Long Island

NASSAU COUNTY (WABC) -- It's a new therapy with a catchy tune.

"I can feel the muscles loosening up, and the blood coursing through my arms," said Carol Hrbek, a patient.

And that's the goal.

Healthcare experts on Long Island are using musical instrument therapy to help treat long-term lung and cardiovascular problems from COVID like coughing and shortness of breath.

"It really motivates you. It helps your heart rate. Makes you breathe better, and you just like it. You put your whole body in it," said Marcella Taylor, a patient.

The idea is that using music as a form of physical therapy will increase patient participation and ultimately speed up recovery.

"If you can get a patient to do their rehab, and get done what needs to be done and get them breathing, and having fun at the same time, and wanting to do it. That's the whole goal," said Lisa Penziner, Director of Special Projects for Paragon Management.

In this case, a harmonica is used in place of typical devices to help those dealing with shortness of breath.
One of the reasons why this program is so successful is because playing the harmonica is actually fun instead of using a device known as an incentive spirometer to improve your breathing.

Meanwhile, makeshift drums are used to bring up your heart rate

"It's helpful because it makes the time go by a lot quicker, and it makes you enjoy what you're doing. Whereas if you were going one, two, three, four. Yay! After a while it gets a little tiring," Hrbek said.

These new methods are helpful to treat the specific effects of COVID, especially on older people, but the leaders of the music therapy program say that this can be helpful for people of all ages.

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