Dr. John Schaman Has a Musical Solution to a Medical Problem: Medical Harmonica Helps Patients Recovering from Coronavirus

October 03 07:51 2020

New York, NY, USA – October 2, 2020 – Dr. John Schaman, inventor of the world’s first medical harmonica, advocates the benefits of physiological challenge with regards to lung function. This has positive implications for all, but particularly patients impacted by lung diseases, including COVID-19. Substantial lung function improvements can be achieved by taking his musical approach. His Harmonica Exercise for Lung Program (HELP) works the pulmonary system out of its comfort zone and strengthens the muscles of breathing.

John P. Schaman, M.D. set up the first private practice in Canada in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine in 1978. Since that time, he has assessed, treated, and rehabilitated more than 56,000 patients at his Ontario Aerobics Centre, just outside of Toronto, Canada. His patients have included internationally known sports stars, Olympic champions as well as hopefuls, weekend warriors, and many patients hoping to rebound from damaged hearts and lungs.

In 2007, Dr. Schaman stumbled upon epidemiological data that shifted his focus to lung function. The data showed it was normal for all of us, including athletes, to lose half of our lung function between the ages of 30 and 70. The impact of this data struck him personally, as he had observed a drop in his own lung capacity, going from 6.8 L in medical school to 4.7 L in 2006. He attributed this loss to our present-day digital lifestyle, which requires much less movement that was required of our forefathers. It is well known and accepted that heart and muscle function can be significantly improved with appropriate exercise strategies. Hoping that this could also be achieved with respect to the lungs, he started his quest to find a remedy. After entertaining various possibilities, he started a program involving exercises using the harmonica, as this is the only instrument in the world that exercises the inhaling muscles, which are more vital than the exhaling muscles. Because of various shortcomings in “regular” harmonica playing, his research led to the development of the “medical harmonica.”

The harmonicaMD or “Medical Harmonica,” also termed a diatonic chord harmonica, is meant to be played with multiple simultaneous notes (chordal playing). Whereas a normal 10-hole diatonic harmonica plays 2 chords, the medical harmonica plays 8! This is easier, from a skill point of view, while at the same time, moves more air. Dr. Schaman is collaborating with the University of Wisconsin and the Mayo Clinic (harmonica therapy in COPD patients), on the usage of the “medical harmonica” to help respiratory patients including those recovering from COVID-19. There has been significant reported experience that aggressive breathing exercise can have a positive impact in reducing morbidity in the early phases of the disease, while at the same time, providing an effective rehabilitative therapy approach in the convalescent phase.

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