31 December 2008

Art Without Boundaries making a difference

Dayle Sundberg of Estelline works with residents at the Golden Living Center and the Estelline Nursing and Care Center earlier this month, spending 30 minutes with those who wanted to benefit from a unique therapy called Art Without Boundaries.

Through the simple acts of singing, movement , painting and storytelling, Dayle Sundberg of Estelline is helping individuals with brain disorders bring everyday, pleasurable moments into their life.

Sundberg has started the first South Dakota chapter of Art Without Boundaries after completing an extensive online course and doing her hands on training with founder and mentor Noell Hammer. This is the first chapter in South Dakota, but there are chapters in six other states.

Art Without Boundaries uses MnemeTherapy, a cutting-edge whole brain therapy for individuals with brain disorders or issues. "This is not art therapy," said Hammer, "but rather a way to speak to the brain in a different way."

Hammer and Sundberg visited the Golden Living Center in Lake Norden and the Estelline Nursing and Care Center earlier this month, spending 30 minutes with willing residents. The session started out with the singing of a familiar song, left-to-right body movement, the painting of a picture and ended with storytelling about the painting .

"I had no idea how it would affect my heart," Sundberg said of her experience with her first two patients. As she worked with a stroke patient who had difficulty speaking, by the end of the 30- minute session the patient was getting some vowels and sounds out and was able to say "I love you."

"Everyone was weeping for joy with the hope it gave," said Sundberg. "I didn't' realize how big of an impact it was going to be."

Hammer stresses that is not the artwork, but the process which strives to stimulate sustained attentive focus.

"Our goal is to provide a rewarding experience . We are not trying to cure the patients, but provide every day pleasure," Hammer said.

But during the process many of her clients over the past 10 years, ranging in age from 2-107 , have had incredible results, including amazing paintings, significant improvement in verbal skills, mobility, combativeness, spatial acuity and understanding instructions.

"The therapy is something I would have wanted to do with my mom but couldn't ," Sundberg said of her mom, who spent the last five years of her life with injury-related dementia. "It would have been wonderful to get a glimpse of her again."

Having a parent with a brain injury was one of the reasons Sundberg chose to complete the training and open an Art Without Boundaries chapter in South Dakota.

"It was a good fit for me as I love old people and have had experience working with dementia patients," Sundberg said.

Sundberg has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of South Dakota with a specialization in sculpture and also saw this as a natural progression for her art.

MnemeTherapy works on individuals with all types of dementia: Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke victims, Pick's disease, (frontotemporal dementia), Lewy Body disease, and with younger children and adults with Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, ADD, ADHD, autism, and cerebral palsy.

Caregiving institutions such a nursing homes and assisted living center, as well as private individuals with short-term rehab or disorders, are encouraged to make an appointment with Sundberg by calling her at 605-873-3030 or 605-769-0811 .

For more information about MnemeTherapy and Art Without Boundaries, visit http:// www.artwithoutboundaries.org or www.artwithoutboundaries.org/DS.html.

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