Music the medicine for teacher’s recovery
For Melbourne-based high school teacher, David Schenkel, the road to recovery from an acquired brain injury has been a long one but, buoyed by rehabilitation and a passion for making music, he continues to improve each day.
After surgery to remove a brain tumour in 2014, David sought care in the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) rehabilitation centre at Caulfield Hospital and, after returning home, continued his return to daily life with the support of the ABI Community Rehabilitation Service.
David said the first few weeks of rehabilitation were the hardest – both physically and emotionally.
“It’s not that I forgot how to do every-day functions, like walking or eating, but everything was more difficult and took a lot of energy,” David said.
When neuropsychologist, Dr Jane Khoo first met David she said it was evident that his short-term memory had been impacted, as well as other aspects of his cognition, and ability to control his emotions.
“Adjusting to life after an acquired brain injury can be a very daunting and overwhelming experience,” Dr Khoo said.
“Our therapists worked with David and his family to develop strategies, and put in place systems, to help him be as independent as possible,” Dr Khoo said.
“Importantly, we’re also supporting him through the emotional roller-coaster of coping with the changes to his life.”
As his ability to play music was not affected after the surgery, it played a vital role in David’s recovery – helping him to reconnect with his identity, and rebuild confidence.
“I discovered that when I played guitar it carried a benefit that meditation gives some people. I am able to disappear into a song and just think about the music,” David said.
Through his love of music and with the support of allied health specialists, nurses, doctors, family and friends, David recently released his first music album featuring Future is bright, one of the first songs he played after his surgery.
You can hear more about David’s story, and hear some of his music, in his interview on ABC Radio National, Life Matters.