Magic as Therapy after Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog by William C. Jarvis, Ed. D.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Magic as Therapy after Brain Injury

Magic as therapy after brain injury.

Magic as therapy after brain injury.

Being disabled is not fun!  A car collision for me in 2000 resulted in a coma, fractured C1-C4 vertebrae, a Traumatic Brain Injury, and one and a half years in hospitals.   During this time, magic has helped me greatly in rehabilitation.   I have spent years in recovery and still continue to benefit from performing magic.  Years of teaching in public schools and working as an Education Professor at Taylor University Fort Wayne gave me a background in how to motivate children.  My experience in magic and a Merlin Magician in the IBM provided a unique tool for rehabilitation improvement.

I gave a lecture at the 2006 IBM Convention in Reno, Nevada on the use of magic as a therapy tool.  Today I walk slowly with a cane, drive a car, co-lead a TBI Support Group in Fort Wayne, and continue my interest in magic.  Magic has given me internal motivation to improve.  Kevin Spencer in the Healing of Magic and David Copperfield in Project Magic have developed programs to use magic as a therapy tool.

Performing Magic is most helpful in Social, Cognitive, Physical, and Psychological areas of improvement after my injury.  Improvement is active engagement with life.

The Social aspects are apparent as magic is a good for a person’s social interactions and self-esteem.  Magic can promote interaction with people through their involvement with a magical effect.  This type of audience participation is crucial to helping social skills.

The Cognitive thinking areas cover all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive thought.  Knowledge is re-enforced by having the directions for a trick; the next is Comprehension is understanding how to do the trick.  Application is being able to perform the trick; Analysis is being able to analyze the intricacies of the trick; Synthesis is being able to creatively make up a story that fits your personality in performing the trick.  Lastly, Evaluation is being able to properly evaluate how you performed the trick and to improve on it.  All this engagement in the thinking process results in clear thought.

 Physical improvement may involve fine or gross motor coordination skills to perform the trick many times.  It is the required repetition of performing necessary to learn a trick that reinforces motor movement through a pleasurable activity.  Some magical effects require a toe switch which can improve response time by reinforcing brain signals to activate movement.   This is true of all movement required in the performance of magic.  A person also improves control of muscle movement in the requirements o performance.

Psychological improvement involves the psychological affirming that a person is improving.  There are levels of performance complexity in all magic.  It is easily possible to find a magic effect at a level comparative to a person’s physical needs and slowly increase the difficulty.  A person will realize small improvement as he attempts practices the effect and realize he is getting better in many aspects of engaging with life.

In summary, magic is a healing tool for those in need of physical and psychological improvement.  Magic, by its requirements of an audience to find full effectiveness, has by design the ability to provide social interaction that is a basic humane need.  Magic, requires creative and careful thought to be fully appreciated.  Cognition is automatically enhanced through its application.  There are physical requirements for every magical effect that continually improves a person’s response time and ability to exert physical movement.  Psychologically, magic creates a mental wellness and pride of accomplishment in successfully performing and learning various magical effects.

Magic is a wonderful therapy tool for a disabled person.  This can be useful for Stroke, Disabled, Handicapped, or other people in compromising situations.  The best value of magic in this venue is that it gives a person hope!


2 responses to “Magic as Therapy after Brain Injury”

  1. Janet Cromer says:

    Dear William,

    Thanks for teaching me so much about magic! I was recently at a friend’s 60th birthday party where a magician entertained a crowd of adults and has us all laughing and puzzling out his tricks. Great fun, and definitely mind-engaging! Keep up your performances!

  2. Marilyn Lash says:

    What a delightful article – watching a good magician is truly magical. I never would have thought of magic as a tool for cognitive recovery but this makes perfect sense – and certainly sounds like more fun than those repetitive and boring but necessary exercises. I hope many therapists consider adding this to their programs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.