In the News & Television With
THE COMEDY MAGIC OF WILLIAM
Newspaper article about Project Magic that appeared in the
Daily Press in Hampton/Newport News VA
Practical magic: Patients
at Sentara learn tricks to aid their recovery
Nothing happened. But on the third flick, a knot suddenly appeared at the rope's end.
Newspaper article about Project Magic that appeared in the Va Pilot in Norfolk/Va Beach VA
Rather, a deck of cards, a blue silk scarf, an orange sponge ball in a tiny box within a box within a box.
``What you see here is just an ordinary, marked deck of cards,'' Warren joked while shuffling cards before a group of therapists and patients. ``I figure, why take chances?''
Warren is a professional magician, and he uses magic tricks to help Sentara patients recover hand dexterity, memory, fine motor skills and other abilities damaged through accidents, disease or illness.
With other audiences, he keeps the illusion a mystery, but with these patients he reveals the secrets so they can do the tricks themselves.
That's what turns the magic into therapy.
During the past two weeks, Warren has been working with Louis Elmo, an occupational therapist, to train therapists throughout the Sentara hospital system using a program called ``Project Magic.''
Internationally known magician David Copperfield launched Project Magic more than 20 years ago, and the program is now used in more than 1,000 hospitals in 30 countries to help people recover through magic.
Elmo and Warren tailor the tricks to meet the needs of the patient. Tearing a napkin into pieces and magically making it whole again is good for a patient who needs to regain balance while sitting. The sequences of a card trick force a stroke victim to work his memory. Turning a dollar bill into four quarters exercises the hand muscles of an accident victim.
The sleight of hand also has a therapeutic effect on patients' minds.
``It lifts your spirits,'' said 62-year-old Betty Harrell, who is recovering from a car accident. ``The other therapy makes you sweat, but this gets me excited.''
Copperfield came up with the Project Magic idea while exchanging letters with another magician. Later, he saw a photograph of the man performing and was surprised to see that the magician used a wheelchair.
The confidence that Copperfield saw in the magician led him to realize that developing skill in magic tricks might also build self-esteem, motor skills and memory in people recovering from accidents or illness.
He launched Project Magic in 1982 at a California hospital using a set of tricks and a manual that has since been accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Warren and other magicians first took the tricks to local hospitals in the 1980s. Warren left the area for a while but decided to revive the program after hearing about an international convention of Project Magic in Las Vegas last year.
By that time, he was working in Sentara's information technology department. He linked up with Elmo, who had been using tricks for years in his occupational-therapy work at Norfolk General. Last week they took their show on the road.
``It's a great ice-breaker because everybody loves magic,'' Elmo said. ``They don't even know they're doing therapy.''
During the past few weeks, Elmo and Warren have demonstrated the tricks for therapists at Sentara hospitals in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Hampton. They plan to hit two more hospitals in the system and also bring therapists in from outlying clinics.
Then they'll begin once-a-month magic sessions to introduce new tricks.
During the demonstrations, the patients have been treated to disappearing balls, floating cards and dollar bills that magically turn into quarters.
``Enjoying this?'' Elmo asked 74-year-old Elmer Zartman, who is recovering from a heart attack.
``Very much,'' he said.
``Just keep your money in your pocket,'' Elmo joked.
Both Warren and Elmo say they have long gotten over the agony of giving away the secrets to their tricks. To see patients do tricks that not only make them smile but lead to recovery is ample reward.
Plus, they always keep a little something back.
``Certain tricks you keep to yourself,'' Elmo said. ``Because you have to keep them amazed.''
Reach Elizabeth Simpson at 446-2635 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Magic VA Pilot Article Picture
Project Magic Va Pilot Article Picture
Here are the Project Magic & Healing With Magic Files available for Download. These same effects can also be used for a kids Magic Camp. Just change the title of the page and delete the Physical Therapy references.
Below is the link to the Society of Young Magicians website for ages 8 - 18.
|PM Trick List||PM 10 Card Force||PM Change For Dollar||PM Color Vision|
|PM Force Poker Chips||PM Goals Template||PM Key Card||PM Magicians Choice|
|PM Nesting Boxes||PM Rubber Bands||PM Sponge Balls||PM Torn Napkin|
|MC Handout||PM Knot on Rope||PM Floating Pencil|