In the U.S., music therapy is the unsung hero on the spectrum of recovery. Europeans regularly use it as part of any plan of care. However, unlike speech and physical therapy, music therapy is not generally covered by insurance companies in the U.S., so it remains an underutilized tool. Research has shown increased brain activity while listening to music by detecting changes in blood flow with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This increased perfusion stimulates various nerve and muscle pathways that improve memory, learning, feeling and sleeping. Music therapy also aids in the healing process, distracting the body from pain to promote healing from both acute and chronic conditions.
In metro Detroit, there is a nonprofit organization that provides not only music therapy, but a sense of independence to those who rely on others. The family of Danny Kassab created Danny’s Miracle Angel Network (DMAN) to honor Danny, who became a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic at 7-years old after being hit by a car. Danny’s family, led by brothers Ziad and Calvin, made it their mission to give him the best quality of life possible. Even with their help, Danny suffered from bouts of depression. Danny was able to lift his depression by recording and performing music – an act that, as his family says, brought him pure joy.
After Danny’s death, Ziad set forth creating the DMAN studios, fully equipped with state-of-the-art accessible audio devices. With a blink of an eye or a puff of air, the beats and melodies in the minds and hearts of these unique musicians become a reality. What resulted is a vibrant group of men and women of varying degrees of disability with varying degrees of musical talent.
The DMAN Allstars shine bright among friends and family, but revel when performing for the public. I had the opportunity to meet these lovely people and witness their talents at a recent holiday gathering where their members received quite a surprise. Thomas McDonough, owner of Detroit-based record label, RL Recordings, announced a one-year record deal for two DMAN Allstars. The shock and delight they felt was not theirs alone, it spread through the rest of the team – it belonged to them all. Allan Floyd and Tony Banks excel in hip-hop and rhythm and blues. They admit that doing what they love has allowed them to live beyond their wheelchairs and be who they truly are – just as it had for Danny. In reaching their therapeutic goals through performing and producing, they not only improve functionally but spiritually.
The foundation not only brings the team together for musical performance and production, they also arrange cruises, vacations, road trips and other independence building adventures for the participants. DMAN was recently featured on the latest episode of “Welcome to the D” and will be highlighted in 2019 with releases by Floyd and Banks through RL Recordings. The local news recently discussed the collaboration with Allan and Mr. McDonough, www.fox2detroit.com/news/local-news/local-musicians-with-disabilities-land-their-first-record-deal. To donate or learn more about Danny’s Miracle Angel Network, check out their website at www.mydman.org #bethemiracle