Harp therapy helps Wood County hospital patients - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Harp therapy helps Wood County hospital patients

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) - A Wood County woman and her harp are bringing one of a kind treatment to patients.

A harpist from Wisconsin Rapids has been performing at a hospital there for just three months. But both hospital leaders and patients say it's already making a major impact.

Riverview Medical Center patient Carol Schmidt made a special request when she saw harpist Sue Popelka. She wanted to hear the Lord's Prayer.

"My whole heart is the Lord," said Schmidt.

Moving performances like this aren't uncommon at at the hospital in Wisconsin Rapids now that Popelka has been playing there. She is a certified musical practitioner and this is part of her internship for the Music for Healing and Transition Program.

"I have left the hospital with tears in my eyes. I have left the hospital with a smile on my face. But I have always left the hospital with joy in my heart because to see, to see the difference in some of the people and that I actually made a small difference in their life, even for just 10 minutes, is just, it blows me away," said Popelka.

Hospital leaders say the soothing sound can be an alternative to prescription medicine.

"You always heal better when you're calm. If you're agitated or distracted, it can impact your healing and so this really helps patients remain calm and let us do the work we need to go with them," said Dawn Brostowitz, director of nursing.

Popelka uses her harp to help a variety of patients from the dying, to the cognitively impaired and those recovering from surgery or illness.

"We try to make their last moments or their moments here or however long they have, we just try to relax them and make it good for them," said Popelka.

A relaxed patient, with a smile on her face, is proof that the sound of this music is working.

"It is the most beautiful thing. It is gorgeous," said Schmidt as she listened to Popelka play.

The harpist says she named her instrument Edna, after her mother. She says patients even talk to Edna like she is real, thanking the harp after performances.

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