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Premiering Wednesday, March 29, 8:00 p.m.

Download this press release (MS Word document).

Download Circle of Care story information (MS Word document).

"Music medicine is much more than having you listen to a rhythm or to prerecorded music. It's the process of being together in the music, creating music together, really being engaged in the beauty of music."                                                                                                   -- Joke Bradt, music therapist

CIRCLE OF CARE: THE ARTS IN MEDICINE, a WHYY original documentary that explores how the creative arts are used to aid communication in healing and healthcare, will premiere Wednesday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m. on WHYY TV12. The half-hour film visits hospitals, rehabilitation centers and adult residential communities throughout the Greater Philadelphia region to intimately witness the process of expressing and communicating through music, dance, painting, theater and poetry.

The documentary will be followed at 8:30 p.m. by a live, one-hour discussion with leading local experts, documentary subjects and a live studio audience on the role of arts and humanities in medicine. Television viewers can also participate in the conversation by e-mailing their questions and comments during the program to At 9:30 p.m., stay tuned for the PBS special The New Medicine about integrative medicine, hosted by the late Dana Reeve, who passed away from lung cancer earlier this month.

The documentary is a production of WHYY Wider Horizons, a multimedia initiative addressing the needs and interests of the growing population approaching or in the "second half" of life, working with the Caring Community, WHYY's volunteer coalition of more than 100 local civic and healthcare organizations.

"Music, visual arts or poetry are alternative ways for patients and health professionals to communicate," said Willo Carey, Executive Director of WHYY Wider Horizons. "Good communication correlates highly with patient, family and caregiver satisfaction with care and effective medical decision-making."

CIRCLE OF CARE: THE ARTS IN MEDICINE opens with students at the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy as they are engaged in a dance class with therapist Rachel Morales. Free movement allows these teenagers, who may otherwise have difficultly communicating, to express how they feel. As HMS student Kristin Young described the experience: "I feel happy when I dance." School pediatrician Steven Bachrach added that medical professionals, who often see children with cerebral palsy only when they're sick, also benefit from being audience to a dance class. "Residents in practice see these children at their worst, when they're least functional," said Bachrach. "So to see them out in a chair and dancing and interacting the way other teenagers do, gives you a sense of greater potential of what they are able to do."

Performance can also help patients communicate their pain experience or lessen the perception of pain, as demonstrated during CIRCLE OF CARE by Paul Nolan , music therapist at Drexel University College of Medicine. Nolan's therapy sessions with A. Bruce Gregory, who suffers from severe pain caused by sickle cell anemia, has carried over into Bruce's everyday life: he now carries a kalimba, a small, African finger piano, wherever he goes. "We see Bruce walking through the hallways with his kalimba and he plays fast — lots of subdivisions, no pauses," said Nolan. "And this seems to somehow slow down his pain."

For more than 15 years, the staff of adult residential community Cathedral Village -- together with music therapist Lorna Glassman -- has been using music to help aid in communication and to recall memories for the pleasure and health of nursing home residents. "Those who are suffering from dementia, they're not sure where they are, they're not sure where their loved ones are, they're not sure about anything," said Patricia Heffner, recreation manager at Cathedral Village. "When you have something familiar like music, it's a comfort. There are people who can't tell you what they need, but they can sing every word to 'God Bless America.'"

CIRCLE OF CARE also visits the theater class at Magee Health and Rehabilitation Center, where Aaron Deede, paralyzed from the waist down and cognitively impaired as the result of an automobile accident, and his fellow actors perform sequences in mime. "Mime is maximum idea with minimum movement," explains theater teacher Barbara Gregson, "which means that if you already have difficulty moving lots of parts of your body, you can concentrate on one part, and that one part is what you are going to be expressive with."

In companion with the premiere of CIRCLE OF CARE: THE ARTS IN MEDICINE, WHYY-TV will broadcast ten three-minute pieces about local uses of the arts in medicine. Stories include the use of music to teach language; treating the whole patient through a team approach that includes an art therapist; a painting class for cancer patients and survivors to express their emotions and enhance care; storytelling as an avenue of communication among residents of an assisted living facility; and the benefits of journaling and writing for healthcare professionals. These segments will air throughout the WHYY TV12 schedule beginning in March.

Executive Producer for CIRCLE OF CARE is Trudi Brown. Andrea Campbell is Producer/Director.

CIRCLE OF CARE: THE ARTS IN MEDICINE was made possible by a grant from Sound Partners for Community Health , a national project of the Benton Foundation, funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is dedicated to improving health and health care for all Americans. Additional funding was provided by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

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