Playing the harmonica is a new program which is being used at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, to improve breathing in pediatric patients with asthma and pneumonia and pediatric patients who are postoperative to exercise their lungs.
Jerry Henderson, assistant vice-president for perioperative services, contacted the Respiratory department with the idea to use the harmonica as a tool to help patients with pulmonary disease.
This concept was introduced by Buddy Wakefield, the father of Henderson.
Wakefield has been teaching the harmonica to patients with Parkinson disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
According to him, "playing the harmonica is like doing push-ups for the lungs."
Wakefield's method is simple. He distributes a kit that contains a music book with a simple harmonica and instructions on how to play.
He reviewed the instructions with a respiratory therapist and within 15 minutes she was playing her first tune on the harmonica.
Respiratory therapists and nurses are always looking for fun ways to help patients exercise their lungs, and this was a way to achieve this goal.