CLEVELAND -- Music has long been used in therapy, but for one little girl it may have saved her life.
"I am absolutely convinced that singing those Bruno Mars songs and being able to say 'Bruno Mars' is in itself a miracle," says Nancy Bass, MD, a pediatric neurologist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital of her patient, 11-year-old Zumyah Thorpe, "and knowing all the words to the songs has helped her recover."
In March 2013, a drunk driver hit Zumyah's car, killing her pregnant mother and two of her sisters. Zumyah, meanwhile, had brain swelling so severe doctors had to remove part of the skull. Dr. Bass says most people with these injuries, as many as 70 percent, don't survive. And of those survivors, most stay in a vegetative state, never walking, talking, eating on their own, or even sitting up. Nurses in the hospital played Bruno Mars every night for Zumyah, and Dr. Bass knew she was recovering during a follow-up visit when she was able to walk and then she tested her language skills.
"I asked her who her favorite singer was and she said 'Bruno Mars' as quick as anyone would say any singer ," says Dr. Bass, who found "(You're Amazing) Just The Way You Are" on her iPhone. "And she just started singing every single word. It definitely brought a tear to my eye."
"She just fills my heart with such joy every single day," says Lisa Trau, a special needs aid at Solon City Schools where Zumyah attends Orchard Middle School. "She loves to sing and dance, she dances through the halls, she sings all the time."
Dr. Bass says the accident left Zumyah with diminished sight so her other senses are important. And music therapy can help with rehab for brain injury patients.
"She brings a smile to everybody's face," says Trau. "You can't help but love Zumyah."
Bruno Mars plays Quicken Loans Arena Saturday, June 28th and hopes to meet Zumyah.