We all have that favorite song that we know every single word to, yet somehow we can’t remember what we ate for breakfast or what was on our grocery list.
For people who have experienced a stroke or other brain injuries, these small tasks that we often take for granted can take a lot of effort.
Now, a unique choir is combating that issue through song.
“Most of us can sing but not all of us can. But it doesn’t matter. We have fun. ,” said Jessica Richardson.
“Swing Low” fills room 1331 of the University of New Mexico’s Speech and Hearing Sciences building.
The familiar song coming from voices that once struggled to get out.
“Neuro Choir is a choir for persons who have different types of brain injury or brain difference,” said Richardson.
Director of Neuro Choir and speech pathologist, Jessica Richardson, says the choir grew out of research focused on answering questions like how can we repair the brain, how can we help someone recover after they’ve had one of these events.
“How can we keep their brain intact and as highly functioning as possible in the face of that progressive disease,” said Richardson.
Members come to her with different levels of brain injuries or differences, from stroke, brain tumors, brain surgery, even Parkinson’s.
“A lot of time these brain differences will affect communication,” said Richardson.
Through music, they sing and members are finding their voice again.
“One of the theories is that it helps to pull along the words especially if it’s been a highly learned song. Whereas if they were just trying to say the words in a conversation it may not come out,” said Richardson.
Neuro Choir is also combating the social isolation that comes with recovering from a brain injury.
Gary Collins says after his stroke, he shut himself off from the world.
“One of the things that happens to people with brain injury is they isolate themselves. That’s one of the worst things you can do,” said Collins.
Thanks to the Neuro Choir, Collins says he now gets out more and others, like Brian Blessing, just want to be around people.
“I just want to be a part of a group,” said Blessing.
Their next project is to create a video featuring the members of the choir to raise awareness about brain injury and recovery.
Neuro Choir meets twice a month. Their next meetings will be April 5, April 26, May 3 and May 10.
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