Participant – Ben

Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Foundation Programme Case Study

Ben has right­sided hemiplegia which affects the movement in his hand and arm, but in his particular case, it is predominantly the thumb that is most affected. His condition is the result of a brain injury at birth and means he finds it challenging to get dressed, eat, write and play certain games and instruments.

Ben attended the Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Foundation Programme, in 2014 aged seven. To begin with he was quite worried about going somewhere new, but ended up having had a great time and soon bonded with one of the older Breathe Magic Mentors.

According to his mother Sharon, he practiced the tricks with gusto every evening after camp and his constant smiles both at camp and performing at home showed how much fun he was having.

Before attending the programme Ben wore a splint on his right hand. As a result of learning the magic tricks the movement in his right hand improved rapidly and he was soon tackling everyday tasks that he had previously found too difficult.

Before the camp, Ben said that he wanted to be able to put on his cycle helmet by himself by the end of the two weeks. He achieved this on the second day (!) – and was even able to take it off by releasing the clasp.

Over the course of the camp his confidence rocketed, which in turn improved his self-esteem at school. Since the camp Ben has continued to astound his parents with new­found skills, such as buttoning up his shirt (without their supervision) and helping to feed the cat.

Mum Sharon said,

I wonder if you can imagine how proud I am of Ben? It leaves me quite speechless. Only two weeks before magic camp Ben was crying with his teacher because he couldn’t join in with the rest of the children when they were doing assembly. That made me feel really sad… and Ben too. But look at him now, doing magic in front of 500 people! It amazes me! At age 7 Ben arrived at camp with his hand still fisted, then after three days of this intensive therapy the thumb started to move to the side, and I really did see that! Then of course today he was able to open his hand right out, and that is the magic.

In 2016 Ben joined the Breathe team at the first Arts-in-Health Conference & Showcase at London’s Royal Festival Hall, in front of an audience of 500 which included the Secretary of State for Health and chairpersons from NHS England and the Arts Council. He astonished everyone (including his parents and our team) with how confidently he performed his magic in front of this huge audience!

Watch Ben’s new found magic skills in action!