Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme

Our clinically effective, fun and engaging approach to therapy for young people with hemiplegia

The Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme was created to help young people with hemiplegia (a weakness or paralysis affecting one side of the body as a result of brain injury or stroke) through the art of magic. We use specially designed Breathe Magic tricks to develop hand and arm function, cognitive abilities, self-confidence and independence.

Grounded in world-class medical research, this award-winning approach gives young people access to 78 hours of intensive therapy and transforms them into young magicians. Specialist occupational therapists work alongside Magic Circle magicians to provide 1-to-1 therapy in a group setting, delivering interventions tailored to suit each young person’s particular needs.

I have had dozens of young magicians through our clinic over the past few years. From an evidence base, what is obvious are the real and sustained benefits in two-hand function. But just as important is seeing the fun the young people have had and the genuine leap in their self-esteem and confidence.
Dr Charlie Fairhurst, Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability, Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Approximately 1 in 500 young people have hemiplegia. At least 65% of them (in the 7-19 age bracket the programme is designed for) could benefit from intensive motor therapy. For 60% of those it also affects their psychosocial development.

Due to inconsistencies in service provision in the UK the majority of young people with hemiplegia have no access to intensive bimanual (two-handed) therapies in the UK despite this approach receiving a ‘Green Light’ in a systematic review (Novak et al., 2013 & 2019) and supported by NICE guidelines (CG145, 2012 & 2016).

75%

Depending on initial abilities, between 75% and 92% of children have clinically significant improvements in hand function after the Breathe Magic camp

Her confidence has grown tremendously and the use of her hand is absolutely amazing. She is now trying everything with both hands.
Susan, mother of Young Magician Louise-Anne, 11

Benefits from our programme:

  • Our research shows that participants had clinically significant improvements in bimanual (two-handed) motor skills and independence. These were well maintained at the 6 month follow-up assessments.
  • Reported improvements in psychological wellbeing and parent-child relationships.
  • Reported reductions in hours of care and support from parents following the young person’s participation in the programme, due to their newfound independence. Our preliminary research suggests a reduction of up to 4 hours per day in care and support needed per young person between their two primary carers.
  • More cost-effective than standard care (a mixture of individual occupational therapy interventions and BoTXN) with additional psychosocial benefits reported.
  • Gives the young person and their family the opportunity to create peer support networks.

Frequently asked questions

A 10-day intervention over two weeks, followed by 3 bi-monthly full day Breathe Magic Clubs over the following six months. A total of 78 hours of intensive therapy and 90 hours of clinical time is delivered over the course of the programme.

Each young person will undergo an assessment with one of our Clinical Lead Occupational Therapists before being accepted on to the programme. Our main eligibility criteria includes; aged 7 to 18 years at time of the camp, in mainstream education, keen to learn magic, able to follow multi-step instructions and able to work as part of a group.

To register your interest or discuss a young person’s suitability for the programme, please contact us or express your interest by filling in our referral form at the top of the page.

Breathe Magic has been selected as a case study of good evidence and practice in the World Health Organisation’s report on the evidence on arts in health and wellbeing.

It has also received national mainstream press and media coverage including BBC’S The One Show and Channel 5 News , and featured in The Times and Evening Standard.

Our Awards

Our Partners

We are delighted to select Breathe Magic for the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for Rehabilitation. They make a real difference to the lives of the young people they treat. This award will help Breathe expand its services to benefit more young people throughout the UK, and we look forward to helping them with this.
Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Director for Innovation, NHS England

References

(Green, D., Schertz, M., Gordon, A. M., Moore, A., Schejter Margalit, T., Farquharson, Y., Fattal-Valevski, A. (2013). A multi-site study of functional outcomes following a themed approach to hand–arm bimanual intensive therapy for children with hemiplegia. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 55(6), 527–533)

(Fancourt, D., Wee, J. and Lorencatto, F. (2020). Identifying mechanisms of change in a magic-themed hand-arm bimanual intensive therapy programme for children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy: a qualitative study using behaviour change theory. BMC Pediatrics, 20(1), 363)

In magic camp everybody believes in me, I’m not the only one with hemiplegia now. I feel much happier.
Alfie, 12, Young Magician

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