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The Healing Power of Music

Alex Torello, USMC (1959-63)

An innovative music therapy concept shows promise for our wounded warriors in soothing injuries of the body and soul.

It would be near impossible for most of us to imagine the day-to-day suffering of a severely injured soldier recovering from battle wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a local VA hospital or other rehabilitation centers scattered throughout the U.S.

Wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, many of these heroes have had their lives literally blown apart-in every sense of those chilling words-suffering indescribable physical or mental anguish-or both. The continuing challenge of the medical community and other caregivers is to find the tools necessary to help these combat veterans in finding ways of recovering their lives and giving them hope for the future.

Musicorps, a concept launched and developed by noted composer Arthur Bloom, brings to veterans fulfilling activity, peace and inner joy that (for so many) only music can satisfy, as well as the feeling of pride that comes with hard-earned accomplishment.

The program enables injured vets to remain productive, helps them believe they can rediscover the satisfaction of doing that which they love-even while recovering from multiple serious injuries. For many it has proven to be trans-formative. One veteran described it as having “a ripple effect,” improving every aspect of his recovery. Another exclaimed, “It has given hope to a lot of us!”

Musicorps also hastens recovery from war-related trauma-including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Concussive blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other explosions are often the cause of TBI, which has been called the “signature injury” of the War on Terror.

Learning, creating and performing music involves so many aspects of brain function that it is believed to call on uninjured parts of the brain to compensate for those parts that have been damaged, as well as to help those injured parts of the brain to improve and even completely recover.

Bloom was inspired to launch Musicorps while visiting a recovering soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The soldier, coincidentally a musician, had been injured by an IED and spoke to Bloom of his concern that he had lost his ability to play the music that was so important in his life. As the two talked, the wounded man expressed his ongoing pain and frustration at the loss of this most important component in his life.

Thus, the seed of a powerful idea was planted and took root through the enthusiasm with which it was greeted by others, both accomplished musicians and amateurs as well.

Arthur Bloom-through Musicorps-was committed to developing an unprecedented program that would benefit not only this particular soldier, but anyone who wished to participate-at any level-under any circumstance.

Indeed, the program has successfully accommodated a broad variety of participants, working in styles that range from hardcore and metal-to classical and rap-employing instruments that range from keyboard and software to guitar and native-American flute.

For more information on this innovative program visit: http://www.VetsLinkConnecticut.com.

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