Whitehall music therapist helps brain injury clients overcome challenges

Posted at 8:15 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:01:09-04

WHITEHALL – Many people find music therapeutic. And for those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, simple tasks can be the hardest thing to overcome.

“Overcome, man! Overcome!,” sings James Skime.

Skime has been trying to overcome his brain injury ever since he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle when he was 8 years old. He struggles with memory loss, but there’s one thing he never forgets.

“1216-A. That was the license plate number that was in my head when I came out of the coma,” Skime said.

James is one of several clients at Liberty Place in Whitehall rehabbing from the complexities of brain injury.

“It manifests itself differently, there are folks that show no signs that anything ever happened, but cognitively there are memory issues, problem-solving issues, just daily tasks that we take for granted that aren’t easy all the sudden,” said David Parker, music therapist for Liberty Place in Whitehall.

Parker started teaching his clients music to help them in their rehabilitation. They’ve made such progress that he’s now turned this into a free community concert.

“They learned to listen to each other, and work with each other again and help each other out because of different strengths and weaknesses within the group,” he said.

Dealing with traumatic brain injury is a daily struggle, but this program shows that despite those struggles they can do something as complex as put on a great concert.

“I think for some we’ve seen this confidence come out of them that ‘I did this,’ kind of bring them out of themselves. We have folks, you know, their situation’s not great and they know that, but it allows them the opportunity to express that and bring themselves out of their shell sometimes,” said Parker.

And they’re ready to show the public what they can do.

“There are a lot of people with a lot of various degrees of brain injury here that have worked very hard to put this all together. It would mean a lot to all of us to get as many people come as see it as we can get,” Skime said.

And see and hear how far they’ve come. The free concert is at 7 p.m. May 17th at the Star Theater in Whitehall.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News