Art of Recovery
Art, science and philanthropy combine to rehabilitate patients.
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Tim's recovery through Embedded Arts

After spending eight months confined to a wheelchair during chemotherapy to treat lymphoma, bone cancer and liver cancer, Tim Hickey was desperate to walk.
Once his cancer treatments were complete, Tim sought help from the Wexner Medical Center Physical Therapy team. He started using a walker, but progress was slow. The game changed when Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, MFA, research scientist and former professional dancer, placed small sensors on Tim’s ankles and directed his attention to a television screen on the wall.
“Move,” she encouraged him.
And so he took one step, and then another. With each of Tim’s movements, colored lines appeared on the screen. The more force he put into his movements, the deeper the colors became. Soon, the entire screen was filled, a rainbow celebration of the work he’d done that day.
“Instead of boring, cracking the whip, ‘You’ve got to move; you’ve got to walk,’ I could see my movements, and the time just flew by,” Tim says now. “I worked harder because I wanted to see those darker colors. It sped up my recovery.” 

“I would be just another artist in a basement trying to get someone to listen to me if donors hadn’t 1,000 percent backed this.” Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, MFA, MS, CCRC Human Motion Analysis and Recovery Laboratory

Where dance and medicine combine

The computer program, Embedded Arts, was developed by Lise at Ohio State with support from donors to the Ohio State Neurological Institute’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program. It is the kind of program that could only happen at a place like Ohio State, where dance and medicine combine to produce art that heals.

An artist, a bio-mechanist and a dancer, Lise wanted to inspire her patients to move and wanted concrete, trackable ways of illustrating how hard they had worked. Donors brought Lise’s vision to life — and her work is making it possible for people like Tim to return to their lives more quickly.

“This is not the work that the National Institutes of Health is funding; it’s not the work that big foundations are funding,” Lise says. “I would be just another artist in a basement trying to make a difference if donors hadn’t 1,000 percent backed this.”

How patients lives have been changed by the embedded arts program

The Embedded Arts Program is an innovative therapy program utilizing improvisation-based graphic art feedback for rehabilitation and neurorecovery.

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