Something almost magical would take over when two-and-a-half-year-old Henry connected with a song. He loved singing and dancing. Music was a big part of his life, but no one could have predicted that music was going to help bring him back from a medical journey that no child should endure.
In the fall of 2018, Henry’s mom Jenna watched as her friendly, energetic little boy had a series of seizures. She knew something was very wrong. Tests revealed an aneurysm in his brain beginning to rupture.
A risky surgery saved Henry’s life, yet Jenna had no idea what the long-term effects might be. After 10 days in a drug-induced coma, Henry woke, but was unable to hold his head up. And something else was missing. The little boy who loved to sing couldn’t utter a word. Henry was silent.
Henry’s journey back
Recovery from an aneurysm as severe as Henry’s proved an uphill battle. He would need all kinds of therapy: physical therapy to build his strength, occupational therapy to relearn everyday skills, speech therapy to communicate and music therapy. Jenna turned to Phoenix Children’s Hospital because it could offer a robust, comprehensive rehabilitation program.
Specialists in the Phoenix Children’s Rehabilitation Services Program worked with Henry over several weeks. He had three to five hours of intensive therapy every day. “Sometimes, a small gain was enough,” Jenna says.
But while he made physical progress, Henry remained unable to speak.
Until one day, everything changed.
A musical breakthrough
During a weekly music therapy session, Henry’s therapist sang him “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”.
“And on that farm, he had a…” the therapist sang, then paused.
After months of silence, a tiny sound came from Henry… “ …pig… ” .
That was it, the breakthrough they’d been waiting for. Henry’s therapist was on to something and continued.
“And on that farm, he had a… ”
After a beat, Henry said “ … horse … ”.
The little boy who spent months in silence could talk again.
“There’s still so much about the brain we don’t know,” says Jenna. But she knows music therapy stimulated Henry, freeing him from silence.
Today, Henry’s in school full time, though the seizures returned and he had a second surgery in 2020. He continues therapy for weakness in the left side of his body. “Mama, I just love this place,” Henry tells his mom when they walk into Phoenix Children’s.
Jenna, too, is grateful every day that rehabilitation programs like music therapy exist. “You never know when it’s going to be your child, or someone close to you, who needs care. It happens that fast.”
Music therapy was instrumental in Henry’s recovery. We’d like to thank Wespac and M3F, the presenting supporters of our music therapy program, for their generosity.
Patients like Henry rely on programs that exist solely because of generous donors like you. Superheroes battling injury and illness every day need your help. Be a hero to a hero.