The D-MAN Foundation Improves Quality of Life Through Music

In 1993, Danny Kassab was hit by a car as a child and was paralyzed from the waste down. He lived for 16 years in need of 24-hour care before passing away in 2009. His older brother Ziad started the D-MAN (Danny’s Miracle Angel Network) Foundation that same year in Danny’s honor so that he would have a legacy of helping others who were faced with the same kinds of difficulties that he was.
 
The mission of the D-MAN Foundation is to increase the quality of life for people with traumatic head injuries, spinal injuries, cerebral palsy, and other diseases that affect the nervous system and impair movement. This is done through their music therapy program, offered at their one-of-a-kind music therapy studio.
 
The D-MAN Music Therapy Studio in Berkley is an environment for people with disabilities to come together, work with a licensed music therapist to make their own music, and achieve their therapeutic goals.
 
Music therapy has been practiced for years with licensed music therapists going room to room visiting patients in hospitals. The difference with the D-MAN Music Therapy Studio is that it is an actual recording studio with professional recording and sound engineering equipment, as well as software and other equipment that enables patients with impaired movement to make their own music. Patients still get the interaction with the therapists, but they can also record the music they produce and take a professionally engineered CD home with them of the song they wrote themselves. 
 
The D-MAN studio is fully equipped with hands-free assistive technology. When a patient comes in, they can open the doors, use the computers, turn on the TV and change the channels, and otherwise control their environment without assistance.
 
This includes their recording equipment. D-MAN offers a variety of assistive technology to enable patients to write their own songs through a computer. Some patients want to write their own music, sing, or make beats themselves; this technology allows them to do that. Devices include a sip and puff module, in which the patient can control options on a computer screen by breathing into a straw, and the Magic Flute, a wind instrument that plays music through head movement that is auto-tuned by special software.
 
Kassab, Vice President of Guardian Angel Home Health Care (a family business that was also started in responde to Danny’s accident) and one of Oakland County’s 40 Under 40 for 2013, says that everything with the D-MAN Foundation has been a grassroots effort, relying on volunteer support and donations from companies and individuals. They have an Annual Fund Campaign (you can donate online) and otherwise rely on social media and events to get the word out.
 
In the future, Kassab hopes to work with a big-name local artist with a significant audience to come forward as a champion of the cause and work on some collaborative fundraising ideas, like a battle of the bands – only the battle is a fundraising competition, and the winner gets to open for said big-name artist. (Calling Kid Rock!)
 
The patients at D-MAN Music Therapy Studio come from their own network of patients at Guardian Angel Home Health Care, which offers home health assistance from outpatient rehabilitation to medial equipment to hospice care. The music therapy is totally free for the patients and families. “It’s our way of giving back to them,” Kassab says. $50 is equal to one hour of studio time for a patient.