The sound of a harmonica playing Happy Birthday is heard down the hall of the Kamloops Primary Care Clinic, making those around smile.
It’s Wednesday, which means a Harmonicas for Health (and Happiness) virtual class is taking place. Participants from across Interior Health are receiving a harmonica lesson and being led through guided breathing exercises. Along with an artistic spirit, the participants share another thing in common; they have a lung disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.
Harmonicas for Health (and Happiness) teaches people with COPD how to have better control of their breathing. It exercises the muscles that help pull air in and push air out of the lungs and strengthen abdominal muscles for a more effective cough. The program also helps them get a self-confidence boost, relieve stress, socialize with others and have fun.
“It’s a fun and innovative initiative to engage a section of our population that is often isolated,” said Dr. Jas Kambo, Kamloops respirologist and the Harmonicas for Health (and Happiness) physician champion. “This platform provides a social structure and sense of community while engaging them in rehabilitation programs that we expect will enhance their quality of life and lung function.”