People with lung disease improve their lives through harmonica therapy

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Lung disease COPD is the third leading cause of death in the US Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia is helping those who suffer from the chronic illness through harmonica therapy. The class is offered by the Better Breathers Support Group and is taught by respiratory therapist Yvette Rollema.

"With the harmonica, they can do the techniques without thinking about the actual breathing," she said.

For some playing the harmonica did not go very smoothly, William bill Cross suffers from stage three COPD and had his larynx removed.

"Losing your voice is probably one of the most personal things that you could lose," said Cross.

About a year ago doctors encouraged him to play the harmonica.

"They gave me one and I looked at it then we looked at each other and it was like, I do not think this is going to work but let me try it."

Cross could not play the instrument with his mouth so he tried something different.

"I put it up to my stoma, but I could not control the notes, it was too wide and it thought, so we can do it with a baby nipple," said Cross.

Harmonica therapy not only helps people with their breathing, but it also gives them a boost in confidence.

"Now I have got the harmonica so you can catch me out at an open mic night jamming to the harmonica and blues music," said Kimberlei Davis.

This is only the second time the class has been offered, but with its success more will be planned in the future.

You can practice at home and come back and we will do it again and we will get better and we will be bluesier next time," said Rollema to her class.
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