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Breathe Magic

Magic Intensive Therapy – adapted magic tricks for hemiplegia, stroke or brain injury

What we do

Breathe Magic is a programme for young people with hemiplegia, which affects motor skills on one side of the body and is the most common type of cerebral palsy. However, there is currently no access to intensive motor therapies and there are no services that also integrate psychosocial therapies, despite 44 per cent of people with this condition developing mental health problems.

Instead of occupational therapy, the children are taught tricks by Magic Circle members which rehearse movements they need to practise. The programme, based in London, is a 10-day intervention of one-to-one therapy in a group setting for children aged seven to 19, followed by six therapy sessions.

Award-winning, peer-reviewed clinical research over five years has demonstrated significant improvements in bimanual motor skills and independence. Improvements in psychological wellbeing, parent-child relationships, and the hours of care and support needed by each child have been noted.

This intervention is more cost-effective than standard NHS treatment pathways. The programme has been commissioned by a number of CCGs and therapy organisations.

Our research shows that a 2-week Magic Camp has immediate bimanual, neurological and psychosocial benefits for the children, all maintained at 6-month follow-up. As examples, children can perform tasks with their weaker hand an average of 2 minutes faster, have 25% greater brain activation when moving the weaker hand and experience surges in confidence and self-esteem. Our ongoing research is probing these effects and the mechanisms behind them.

Dr Daisy Fancourt, Research Lead, Breathe Arts Health Research

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