A baccalaureate prepared nurse at the Veterans Administration Northeast Ohio Healthcare System, Amy Jimenez, BSN, RN, recounts how she incorporated Djembe drums and percussion instruments on the VA long-term spinal cord unit.
I am a RN on the Spinal Cord Injury Long Term Care unit at the Cleveland VA. All the veterans on our unit are permanent residents with various levels of spinal cord injury or spinal cord disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). They require assistance with most activities of daily living, many requiring total care. The winter months can be long and difficult for our veterans. It is hard to get outside and activities are limited after hours throughout the medical center. My goal and passion as a nurse is to pursue ways to incorporate holistic alternatives into my daily practices. I began to bring my drums and beginner videos in on holiday weekends to keep the veterans entertained and introduce them to a new and therapeutic activity.
There are several benefits of drumming such as, a decrease in anxiety and depression, improved joint mobility, increased motor skills, and improved immunity. Drumming helps control chronic pain and releases negative feelings, blockages, and emotional trauma. Most importantly drumming is a fun way for the veterans to interact with one another. One of the veterans thanked me repeated for introducing him to the drums, stating that the vibration of the drum allowed him to feel parts of his body that he has not felt in decades. Other veterans shared similar stories. They had so much fun playing the drums that I reached out to our local buckeye chapter members of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and shared our story. The PVA was able to secure funding to purchase drums and percussion instruments for the unit. Due to the success of our drumming sessions, recreational therapy added weekly drumming to the activities calendar!