What’s causing kidney patients to laugh through dialysis

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There’s something going on in kidney dialysis wards that’s creating guffaws, chuckles and giggles.

The laughter phenomenon started in Melbourne, Australia, a few years ago, and has spread to Logan, south of Brisbane.

Instead of staring off into space for hours (or reading or dozing) while hooked up to an artificial kidney machine, removing waste and extra chemicals and fluid from their blood, patients have started laughing.

Not quite as spontaneously as that of course.

Laughter Yoga is being delivered in Logan Hospital’s renal dialysis unit in a first for Queensland.

It follows scientifically-measured research overseen by Deakin University’s Professor Paul Bennett and facilitated by Laughter Yoga professionals, Melburnians Merv Neal and Ros Ben Moshe, who ran adaptive Laughter Yoga sessions for 18 patients, 3 times a week for 4 weeks:

  • 10 minutes of deep belly breathing, gentle stretches and smiling
  • 10 minutes of facilitated laughter exercises along with chanting ‘hohoho, hahaha’, clapping and slapping of the thigh
  • 10 minutes of relaxing laughter meditation.

Here’s a YouTube clip demonstrating what went on.

Various factors were measured:

  • Quality of life
  • Mood – both self-assessed and as observed by haemodialysis nurses
  • Optimism
  • Self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Blood pressure
  • Lung function.

The results were good. Very good. So much so that Laughter Yoga was deemed to be a viable, safe, low-intensity form of intradialytic physical activity that can be successfully implemented for patients in dialysis settings. Read the full findings.

Now Logan Hospital is piloting laughter yoga, Merv having led the initial session and AIN Dawn Moyle, a Laughter Yoga leader, continuing the sessions. Very good, very good YAY!

Laughter Yoga’s health benefits just keep growing. Could this complementary therapy benefit your workplace or your health space? Your comments are welcome.

(c) Heather Joy Campbell 2016

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