Telehealth music therapy bringing joy to kids in Ohio

Thank you to Jessica Bogacik for sending us this report of the wonderful work she’s doing. Telehealth music therapy has helped her continue bringing joy to kids! Sam’s Fans, with your support, Jessica was able to do 62 visits and serve 19 families from April to June.

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Telehealth Music Therapy is a good option!

With telehealth music therapy as an option now through Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I’m finally able to see all of my patients, even if it’s not the way I’m used to being able to see them. Telehealth has been an amazing tool to be able to use, thanks to the brilliant minds who put it together so quickly. It has not come without challenges, though, including difficulty providing therapeutic interventions as effectively as normal. But mostly, the change has been hugely positive, and I want to tell you a little bit about my telehealth experience in this report.

On April 20, I had my very first telehealth video visits with some of the patients that had been anxiously awaiting the ability to resume visits in some manner. Using a secure version of Zoom, patients and their families were able to log into virtual visits through MyChart. Those first few visits were very exciting, because it had been a long month or so since I had been able to be in patients’ homes!

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Challenges providing music therapy via video

I have found that it is not easy to provide proper music therapy via video. I can’t touch the patients, and I can’t provide them with instruments. We can’t even really make music together, because there is a slight delay in the audio. I’ve been encouraging parents to find items around their home that could be used as an instrument – a box of macaroni, a bottle of spices, or maybe an empty plastic container for a drum. But, as different as it is, the patients still show me how much music means to them. They sing along, they smile, and they laugh. During this pandemic, sometimes just that can go a long, long way.

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Co-treatment with massage therapist

Almost all of my visits have been co-treatment visits with the massage therapists that work on my team. Combining our interventions has been a way to increase the effectiveness of our virtual visits. While I provide music tailored to the patient and their needs on that day, the massage therapists have been providing amazing education to parents, empowering those parents to be able to provide massage to their children.

My interventions are structured to:

  • help us focus on a specific part of the body,
  • promote closeness and positive interaction between the patient and their family member
  • facilitate relaxation,
  • and/or to encourage alertness/focus.

For example, we have a young patient who loves to be bounced and rocked, so I will adjust my tempo, and select songs that support the tempo and rhythm of the parents’ bouncing/rocking. If the massage therapist wants to work on stretching a patient’s arms out, I might select a song about swimming, where the patient could lengthen their arms to pretend to swim.

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Recent virtual visit

A favorite memory of a recent virtual visit was with a patient and her mom who have struggled during this quarantine. They have struggled with physical pain, feeling overwhelmed, and feeling very lonely. During one session, mom was massaging the patient, and I played “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” which lightened the mood. By the end of that session, mom and the patient were both smiling.

Overall, my experience with telehealth has been very positive. I’m grateful for a chance to visit with my patients virtually! As we move further through the summer, we are beginning to get back into patients’ homes. It will be another step closer to the normal that we all miss!

 

You can support Jessica’s work and the work of other therapists in Ohio! Make a donation to bring music and art therapy, and lots of joy, to many kids.

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