BUTLER - The Butler Veterans Affairs Health Care System will offer a new program for Veterans starting this month called "Harmonicas for Health."

Harmonicas for Health was created by the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Foundation and PEP (Pulmonary Empowerment Program) especially for individuals with COPD and other chronic lung diseases.

"This new program can help Veterans learn how to have better control of their breathing, exercise the muscles that help pull air in and push air out of the lungs, and strengthen abdominal muscles for a more effective cough," said Karen Dunn, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program Manager.

"The new program may also help boost self-confidence, relieve stress, and provide an opportunity for veterans to socialize with other veterans."

The main goal of Harmonicas for Health is to encourage Veterans to practice the Pursed Lip Breathing (PLB) technique and to exercise their breathing muscles.

When PLB is done regularly, it helps to remove carbon dioxide from the lungs. It also helps to create more space in the lungs for bigger, fuller breaths.

Harmonicas for Health participants have reported decreased shortness of breath, increased sputum mobilization and increased quality of life.Participants do not have to have any musical experience to benefit from playing the harmonica.

"We know that music is medicine and learning to play the harmonica can be a lot of fun," said Dunn.

"Other VA facilities have shared positive feedback about the Harmonicas for Health program, so we are excited to be able to offer this at Butler."

For additional information and program details, please contact the Butler VA's Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program Manager Karen Dunn at (878) 271-6484.