Art in Healthcare–UB Center for the Arts

The University of Buffalo has a program taking the arts to the patients of the hospital.  Painting, dance, music are brought to the patients.  See what a difference art can make in the video.  Art truly can transform lives.  The University of Florida’s AIM group encouraged and supported UB as their program began.  Art in Healthcare keeps growing!

Art in Healthcare–Dance and the Hip Op-eration Crew

Check out the video link (here) on how this amazing group from New Zealand made the trip to Las Vegas for the International Hip Hop Dance Competition.

Dancing is valuable for seniors and others with mobility issues.  This group of seniors took that advice seriously and formed their own Hip Hop dance group. Nothing is slowing this group down.  Dance is growing as a way of promoting healthy safe moving in the healthcare environment.  And one thing is very clear: dancing is fun!  What could be more motivating?

Dance movement is proving to be a valuable tool for people with Parkinson’s disease.  The Dance for PD organization is growing nationwide.  The research is showing the process of dancing can change the way people with Parkinson’s are able to move.  The Brooklyn Parkinson Group joined the Mark Morris Dance Group to develop dance moves directed toward specific mobility issues for people with Parkinson’s.  Dance for PD and the Morris dance Group have workshops, seminars and more to help other groups get on board.

Dance in Healthcare, like Art in Healthcare, should not be confused with Dance Therapy.  For more on the difference between Art Therapy and Artists in Healthcare see a previous post (here).  Columbia College of Chicago has a description on the Graduate blog, Marginalia.  Dance Therapists, like Art Therapists, are equipped to deal with emotional issues, as well as dance.  Follow the link to the website for more information.

Dance is another way artists are helping people live more fulfilling lives.  Judging by the Hip Op-eration Crew, they are having a blast.  Even those of us with two left feet may be able to join this happy crowd.  So get your dancing shoes out and start dancing for the health of it.

Artists in Healthcare–Bloggers Who Know

Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 10.35.53 AM

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of daily life.”  Pablo Picasso

Picasso’s statement above pops up frequently.  It is a much-quoted line with a depth of wisdom that touches on many areas.  As related to the Arts in Healthcare, the line can literally mean the difference between sickness and health.  No.  I am not saying the arts can replace medicine but they can come in and wash off the dust leaving the pathway clear for healing.  Stress complicates the healing process.  It is a well- documented fact.  Art can relieve stress.  As the arts continue to grow in healthcare where can a person go for more information.  Aside from the big organizations, there are several blogs dishing out the skivvy.

Marti Hand of Creativity in Healthcare is both a nurse and an artist.  On her blog she states, “This blog serves as a platform for my passionate interest in integrating creativity and the creative process (the arts) into healthcare, particularly in the care of patients/clients.”  Hand talks about how the “science and art” of medicine has left off the art part.  Her goal is to bridge that gap by bringing art more into the healthcare setting.  Creativity in Healthcare features articles and important links for those interested in what is happening with creativity in healthcare.

Much has been said about the benefits of the arts with the aging yet few projects are focusing in geriatrics.  Dancing Hands is one blog that directly seeks to bring the arts to seniors.  According to the blog, Laurie Lunsford is an “Interactive Arts Specialist who promotes well-being and community through creative interaction in nursing care facilities.”   She particularly works with Alzheimer’s care.  Lunsford uses sensory stimulation through the arts by spontaneity and self expression and she is passionate about her work.  Read more at the Dancing Hands blog for up to date information on the growing area of Artists in Healthcare for the aging.

 Createquity is a “virtual think tank” and gathering of individuals covering all the basics of Arts in Healthcare.  The stated vision from the blog says Createquity “is a hub for next-generation ideas on the role of the arts in a creative society.”  While they cover more than just the arts in healthcare, quite a bit of the blog is devoted to bringing more arts and creativity into today’s healthcare.  Check them out for a wealth of resources.

The arts are growing in healthcare.  As usual, bloggers are helping to map the way.  These are just a small sample of the bloggers writing on this ever-increasing arts endeavor.  Follow the maps of these bloggers and check out what’s happening as the Arts in Healthcare gradually become an accepted and important part of “washing the dust off our souls” in the healthcare setting.  The field is in the budding phase and is about to bloom wide open.  The bloggers are on top of it.

Arts in Healthcare–Doodling for the Health of It

Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 10.57.44 PM

“Drawing is a frame of mind, a loving embrace if you will.” Susan Avishal (from The Painter’s Keys)

How often do students get in trouble for doodling during class?  Doodling, new research is showing, may not be such a bad thing at all.  In fact doodling may be good for your health.  While supposedly zoning out with some prodigious doodling, the brain is actually busy at work solving some major problems.  Instead of treating doodlers as slackers, perhaps it would be better to treat them as the smarter students because they just may be.

Psychology Today has a regular feature on Arts and Health by art therapist Cathy Malchiodi.  In an article about the benefits of doodling, Malchiodi cites recent research on doodling and memory retention.  It seems that the act of doodling while performing a specific function helps retain the memory of the function.  Malchiodi also discusses in the same article, the current “Zentangle” craze as another example of the health benefits of doodling.  “Zentangle” is more structured than simple doodling and creates a meditative concentration in the process that is both soothing and calming for the heart.

Maybe all those people who scold doodlers are the same analytical types who don’t understand daydreaming either.  Now we know.  Daydreaming and doodling are techniques of the right -brained creative types allowing the brain to work out and solve complex problems.  As both activities are meditative in nature, these creative folks are soothing and relaxing the heart at the same time.  So go ahead, doodle and daydream to your heart’s content.  You just may be about to solve a great human dilemma or come up with the next greatest invention.  You could be the inventor of the soon-to-be latest hot must-have item.  Grab a pen and start doodling.  The world is waiting for your great creation!  At the very least, you’ll be healthier.

The day dreaming post is Meandering Toward Insight

Artists in Healthcare: A Life-changing Event becomes a New Direction for One Writer

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 8.34.23 AM

“People need to know their life is worthwhile.”  Barbara Esrig

On a rainy evening, coming back from seeing a patient, Barbara Esrig , a psychiatric homecare nurse,at the time came face to face with an oncoming car which was trying to pass four or five other cars when they wouldn’t let him back in the lane. The head-on collision resulted in an accident injuring her so badly she was deemed a fatality at the scene.  Barbara survived with 164 broken bones and paralyzed vocal cords.  She attributes much of her amazing recovery to not only a remarkable staff of surgeons and medical staff but equally to her many friends who were both traditional and non-traditional medical people, and some friends who happened to be artists in the Shands Arts in Medicine (AIM) program (now called UFHealth.Arts in Medicine).

Barbara Esrig, writer

Barbara Esrig, writer

Both arms and both legs broken, on a respirator with only a pointing board for communication, Barbara’s hospital room at Alachua General Hospital became the place to be.  People decorated every inch of her room with art, including the IV poles.  Members of the AIM program, still in its infancy at the time, came by regularly to sing to her.  As Barbara describes it, her room was transformed into an “amazing healing environment.”  Word spread and soon doctors, nurses and others were hanging out in Barbara’s room.  Barbara says, “As bad as I was, the room was a really positive place.”

Unable to speak above a whisper for two years and in a wheelchair for three, Barbara came to the realization at the age of 50, that she would never be a nurse again.  Barbara had been writing since the age of ten and had a degree in Cultural Anthropology as well as a nursing degree.  During her recovery, Barbara turned back to her first love of writing.  Writing  and listening to people’s stories became her sustenance throughout her long recovery.

While she was recovering, Shands Hospital acquired Alachua General Hospital where Barbara had been and where she was introduced to the magic of the Arts in Medicine program.  Lauren Arce, then Office Manager for the AIM program called Barbara and asked her to come to their meeting.  Lauren asked Barbara to bring some of her writings to share with the others in the program.  After that first meeting, Barbara was asked to join the AIM program as a writer at Alachua General Hospital.  She did and a new career was born.

Barbara says she sees the world in stories and loves to listen to the stories of people’s lives.  She began to visit patients in their room to hear their stories because “it’s important for them to remember who they are when they’re not in a hospital gown.”  According to Barbara, “People have amazing stories.  It’s like hitchhiking.  You never know who you’ll pick up.”  “Disguised in a hospital gown may be a scientist, a maker of moonshine, a CEO, you never know.”  Barbara says over the years she has heard stories of survival, escape from war torn countries, ancestors arrival in the new country, childhood customs, traditional foods and more.  As an avid cook, Barbara particularly loves to hear the stories of family recipes and special holiday foods, occasionally going home to recreate the foods and bring them back to the patient.

From nurse to writer of oral histories, a life -changing event led Barbara Esrig to a new life direction.  Today, she takes the oral histories of patients at UF Health/Shands Hospital and transcribes them in the patient’s voice with no editing.  She provides both a written copy and a CD recording to the patient or family.  Barbara points out that she purposely does not edit.  When an unedited story is provided to the patient’s family, they recognize the patient’s voice and not the edited voice of the listener, an important difference distinguishing an oral history from a biography.

Many hospital patients often feel reduced to “The Heart” in room 2412, or “the diabetic in room 3400.”  Oral histories let patients, families and hospital staff see more than a disease.  Oral histories show the amazing person rather than the diagnosis.  Barbara Esrig is there to tell the world about as many amazing people as she can on a day-to-day basis.  She says, “you go along in a certain direction in your life, then something suddenly happens and all that changes.”  She says fifteen years ago she,”came in through the back door as a patient,” to the Arts in Medicine program.  From life-changing event to a new life, Barbara Esrig now supports others through their life changing events by giving them a voice. Barbara assists patients to tell others who they are as a person and not as a disease.

Read more about Barbara’s wonderful work at the following link:

*Thanks to Barbara for her contributions to this article!