David Copperfield conjures therapeutic magic at the University

7 August 2009

Globally-renowned magician David Copperfield will visit the University of Sydney this Saturday August 8 to help launch a program that uses magic to encourage therapeutic rehabilitation among the disabled and handicapped.

"Physical rehab is often very, very hard work," Copperfield has said. "But as they learn magic, people can get through tasks that may otherwise seem painful, intimidating, or in which they've simply lost interest."

Copperfield will be headlining a seminar that will mark the official Australian launch of Project Magic - a program that teaches magic tricks to the physically and mentally disabled in order to build self-confidence and stimulate recovery.

"We all know that magic is 'not for real' and yet we can't help but believe -especially when the magician is skilful. What a great goal for children or adults with a disability—to move and act so skilfully that onlookers are fooled into believing that magic occurred," says Professor Anita Bundy, project endorser and Chair of Occupational Therapy at the University of Sydney.

Project Magic endorser, Professor Anita Bundy
Project Magic endorser, Professor Anita Bundy

"David's project will challenge health-care workers such as occupational therapists to think outside the box when it comes to rehab techniques," says Professor Bundy. "Rehabilitation IS very hard work and it's only worthwhile when the tasks are highly motivating. I can think of very few tasks that are as motivating as magic."

Project Magic extends upon established rehabilitation techniques which stimulate simple physical movements and gradually progress to more complex motor skills. The program engages patients through the repeated practice of illusions that can often seem more exciting to patients than the menial tasks repeated in conventional physical therapy.

Patients are taught magic skills and principles that enable them to perform sleight of hand tricks which can bring joy and entertainment to the hospital environment as well as build social skills.

The program not only encourages physical development among patients but also develops cognitive function as those with brain injuries must practice planning and sequencing in order for the trick to succeed. Less mobile or quadriplegic patients are also involved in the program and are taught to perform 'mind-reading' tricks.

Copperfield first established Project Magic in the US in the early 1980s and for the Australian launch he will be training magicians and health-care workers on how to interact with and teach magic to recovery patients. He will be joined by Dr Julie DeJean, administrative director of Kansas behavioural medicine hospital Stormont-Vail West, who will be speaking on her experience of using magic to stimulate the recovery process.

Guests interested in attending the August 8th seminar at the University of Sydney's Bosch Lecture Theatre are invited to click here toregister online. In addition to magicians, health-care workers are particularly welcome in the wheel-chair accessible venue. Photographic opportunities will be available for visiting journalists.

Contact: Sarah Stock

Phone: 0419 278 715