Better Care

Musical motivation at rehab centre!

A musical duo delighted staff, patients and visitors with a surprise performance at West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre.

Friends David Nabb (pictured, centre) and Dan Cahn played a selection of old jazz-blues favourites and original tunes as part of a visit to  Birmingham to attend the One-Handed Instrument Institute (OHMI) conference and awards at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

David suffered a severe stroke 20 years ago which left him completely paralysed on the left-hand side of his body.

David says he lost all movement in his left arm for four months; and even as he recovered some lost movement, it was not sufficient to play his saxophone.

David Nabb and Dan Cahn at WMRC

"When I became ill with my stroke, there were no one-handed saxophones so we had to use our imagination to work out how to do it," says the 57-year-old, of Nebraska, USA.

David worked painstakingly with an musical instrument-maker to make a unique saxophone specially adapted to meet his needs.

So, while a saxophonist usually plays two-handed, David's instrument has been made so that all the notes can be played with his right hand, while his left-hand grips the instrument with a handle.

"It's changed my life," says David, a Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska.

"My saxophone allows me to do everything that an able-bodied person does with two hands, with only one hand.

"Thanks to that and wonderful people like the team at West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre back in the United States, I'm able to walk, talk and play music again."

David says that helping to reduce the substantial cost of creating such specially-adapted instruments is high among his personal and professional interests.

David and Dan met while completing PhDs in music at the University of North Texas in the early nineties. Becoming firm friends, they played in a jazz band together and have kept in touch - but rarely performed together - ever since.