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Health Information In My Own Words "No Joke: Humor Helps in the Hospital!"

A child life specialist explains why laughter truly is the best medicine.

As director of the Child Life Program at Rush Children's Hospital, Robyn Hart helps pediatric patients and their families cope with the pain, stress and fear they may experience during hospital stays or treatments. And she's discovered that one of the most effective coping mechanisms is also one of the simplest: humor. That's why Rush started Therapeutic Humor Week (which took place March 4-8) — and why Hart and the hospital staff try to deliver doses of laughter throughout the rest of the year as well.

Hart recently wrote a post on the Rush InPerson blog about the therapeutic benefits of humor. The following is an excerpt from her post:

What do Mahatma Gandhi, Uncle Fester, Charlie Brown and a punk rocker with a Mohawk all have in common? They're all Halloween costumes I have seen at Rush, worn by pediatric cancer patients as a means to cope with their illness by using humor.

And it's not just kids that do this. A 42-year-old former bone marrow transplant patient came to my office to make a donation to the Child Life Program. While he was there, he regaled me with stories about how he played jokes on hospital staff doing such things as affixing plastic insects to his port site, drinking apple juice out of a urine cup in front of an unknowing nurse, and writing a funny message on his stomach under his gown before going off to surgery. He had managed to find humor in the experience of a life-threatening illness and grueling procedure. And it was clear to me in our conversation that it helped him cope with the many challenges he faced. What did he donate? A case of wind-up chattering teeth.

Caring for sick people is no laughing matter. However, caring for patients using humor and laughter (appropriately) is a recognized intervention in their treatment …

Read the rest of Robyn’s post on the Rush InPerson blog to learn more about therapeutic humor.


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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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April 2013 


 

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