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Media Memo: Story/photo opportunity

TO: News/Assignment/Photo Editors

FROM: Judy Berthiaume

DATE: May 5, 2006

SUBJECT: Ventilator Patient to Present Concert

 

A patient who is on a ventilator and lives at the Wissota Regional Vent and Rehab Center will give a concert at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the rehab center. Blake Weghorn will play the harmonica and sing.

It's unusual for a ventilator patient to play the harmonica but Blake is able to do so because of a device called a Passy Muir valve, which pushes some air into his throat area. The valve allows Blake to speak and play the instrument.

Blake Weghorn, 42, was born with Muscular Dystrophy, and has been a resident at Wissota Health (formerly Lakeside) since 1987. He has been dependent on a ventilator for almost 20 years, making it difficult for him to speak.

Three years ago, Blake began working with faculty and students in UW-Eau Claire's music therapy program and using the Passy Muir valve. With some hard work and encouragement, the valve has made it easier for him to speak.

As a child, Blake sang at church and at local nursing homes. But he had not been able to sing for many years because of his health issues.

About a year ago, one of the UW-Eau Claire music therapy students working with Blake began encouraging him to try to sing again. The results were so successful that Saturday's concert was planned.

Members of the community and the media are welcome to attend Saturday's concert.

For more information, contact music therapy professor Lee Anna Rasar at (715) 836-4260 or rasarla@uwec.edu, or medical director Dr. Mark Lindsay at Lindsay.Mark@mayo.edu.

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