Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme - Breathe

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 60 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.

Approximately 1 in 1000 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).


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

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 three monthly Breathe Magic Clubs (two online, one in-person) over the following three 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 onto the programme. Our main eligibility criteria include; being aged 7 to 18 years at the time of the camp, in mainstream education, keen to learn magic, able to follow 3-4 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.

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(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)

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