1988, award-winning illusionist Kevin Spencer suffered a closed head
injury and a lower spinal cord injury as a result of a near-fatal car
accident. He spent the next several months in physical and occupational
therapy aware that he might never perform again. During that time, he
came to realize how challenging it is for a patient to stay motivated
during long-term rehabilitation. Once he regained function, he and his
wife (Cindy) collaborated with therapists to develop a program that
would use simple magic tricks to help patients regain lost physical
skills while increasing motivational levels and self esteem.
Today, the concepts of "magic therapy" are being used in more than
2,000 rehabilitation facilities in over 30 countries. Kevin Spencer is
an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department of the
University of Alabama in Birmingham and conducts continuing education
workshops for therapists around the world.
The Spencers are back on the road touring with one of the largest
theatrical illusion productions in the world. Their accolades include
International Magician of the Year and Performing Arts Entertainers of
the Year. For more information about The Spencers, visit www.SpencersMagic.com.
OF MAGIC is a carefully designed, systematic approach to the
therapeutic use of simple magic tricks in physical and psychosocial
rehabilitation. It is a viable treatment modality that continues to
gain wide-spread support from therapists and health care professionals
around the world.
“The use of magic
fosters an individual’s ability to assume a role to entertain and to
have self-efficacy. The underlined concepts in magic target areas of
motor, psychosocial, cognitive, and sensory processing [skills] that
lend themselves well to intervention.”
Carolyn Baum, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners (published July 23, 2007)
The most important aspect of this therapy
technique is the ability of the patient to transfer the skills learned
by performing magic tricks into activities of daily living.
learning and performing of magic tricks allows the client/patient a
means of safely exploring their skill level while providing a fun way
of reaching therapeutic goals.
As a treatment modality, it has been utilized in many areas:
– For all physical diagnoses, it is effective in increasing the
client’s ability to manipulate objects (dexterity, grasp, and release)
as well as gross motor skills.
Brain Injury – Performing magic tricks provides cognitive and perceptual challenges for clients with acquired brain injury.
– For the spinal cord injured client with limited hand function, it
allows for mastery of their environment without requiring skillful hand
– In areas of mental health, magic has been utilized to augment
process. It is effective in increasing frustration tolerance,
task-follow through, concentration, group cooperation and communication
and many other goals.
– For students who face additional challenges - LD, ADHD, SLD, or any
number of other physical and/or psychosocial obstacles - learning magic
may have a significant impact on neurodevelopmental fuctions, i.e.
attention, memory, language, temporal-sequential ordering, spatial
ordering, neuromotor fuctions, social cognition, and higher order