Following a very successful 18 months of informal rehearsals, the Singing Cords are back at PA Hospital helping patients with a spinal cord injury to improve their respiratory health and have some fun along the way.
The Singing Cords 12-week pilot program, funded through the Hopkins Centre and Spinal Life Australia, commenced at the hospital this week bringing together ten ‘songbirds’ from the Spinal Injuries Unit and the community.
Singer and Performer, Tim McCallum, said the pilot program’s findings will provide direction on how best to deliver music and singing therapy as part of rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury into the future.
“We are blown away to have ten active songbirds who will come to PAH every Tuesday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks.
“Myself as vocal coach along with a physiotherapist, speech pathologist and leisure therapist are here to encourage the group to have fun and learn to optimise their respiratory function and voice whilst hopefully enjoying the benefits of peer group therapy” he said.
The program is based on Dr Jeanette Tamplin’s research from The University of Melbourne into singing therapy programs and how they can benefit patients’ everyday life.
“Our main goal is to help people who have respiratory challenges because of their spinal cord injury to improve their breathing and their ability to perform everyday functions; things like coughing, blowing your nose, being able to project your voice and talk in full sentences without losing your breath. These are things that people with a cervical spinal cord injury struggle to do,” he said.
PAH Advanced Physiotherapist, Brooke Wadsworth, said this pilot program has slightly adapted Dr Tamplin’s program to include other therapeutic interventions as well as music and singing therapy.
“We have incorporated both a physiotherapist and speech therapist to the program so our ‘songbirds’ have access to multidisciplinary support to optimise posture, equipment set-up, respiratory therapy and speech function too.”
“We know that respiratory illness is the leading cause of mortality in people with spinal cord injury, so we want to optimise respiratory function with the aim of decreasing illness within the community,” she said.
“The results of this pilot have the potential to bring down the rates of respiratory illness in people with spinal cord injury but also improve someone’s mood and feelings of connectedness.
“We hope to offer more therapies like Singing Cords as a result of this research.”
The Singing Cords practice every Tuesday and Thursday at PA Hospital, and it sounds like Paul Kelly is a big favourite of the group already!