Helping to Heal Patients' Pain As New,
In-House Television Channel Debuts at Shadyside Hospital
There is nothing
funny about being hospitalized, as practically any patient or
family member will quickly attest. On the contrary; varying degrees
of fear, anxiety, pain and other related emotions accompany most
patients when they are admitted to a hospital.
But humor and laughter have been clinically proven as having the
power to heal, and psychologists at Shadyside Hospital are using
that power to augment medical care and pain reduction techniques
for patients at the hospital.
Hospital has introduced The Humor Channel, a state-of-the-art,
closed circuit video transmission featuring full-length comedy
films from the 1920s through the 1950s. The films have been transferred
onto a CD-ROM system and are interspersed with a series of informational
30-second messages from the hospital's psychologists. This system
is now broadcasting them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in
patient rooms, at no charge to patients.
is to improve patients' health," said Paul Friday, PhD, director
of clinical psychology at Shadyside. In 1994, Dr. Friday was instrumental
in establishing the hospital's Pain Reduction Channel, which has
proven effective in significantly helping to reduce patients'
cited a growing body of research that supports the healing role
played by humor, beginning with the 1979 publication of Anatomy
of an Illness by Norman Cousins. In that book, the author found
relief from pain caused by terminal cancer by forcing himself
to watch-and laugh at-humorous videos. Cousins was eventually
cured to the point that no trace of the cancer could be found.
Pain Reduction Channel, The Humor Channel is not entertainment,
but a form of therapy that has a real medical and theoretical
foundation," said Dr. Friday. "Patients who actively use these
resources find their hospital stays to be less traumatic, depend
less upon professional and medical resources, and are often able
to be discharged sooner," he said.
to Dr. Friday, lab tests document that subjects who had been exposed
to humor such as funny videos showed a measurable decrease in
stress hormones, including epinephrine and dopamine, as well as
an increase in activity in the immune system which often are still
present the next day.
evidence shows that laughter activates the production of more
immunoglobin A, an antibody that fights respiratory tract infection;
natural killer cells that attack tumor cells and viruses; more
B cells, which produce antibodies against harmful microorganisms;
more gamma interferon, a hormone that activates the immune system
and fights viruses; more Complement 3," which helps antibodies
pierce infected or dysfunctional cells; and more helper T-cells
that help organize the immune system's response.
Channel, which is comprised of 32 hours of classic comedy films,
was developed at Shadyside Hospital using innovative technology.
Its CD-ROM-based technology offers a compact size while allowing
unlimited longevity and ultra fast access speed. All video and
audio information has been compressed and encoded onto 32 compact
discs, each containing an hour or more of full motion video and
audio. A computer activates the CDs in a pre-programmed order
to create The Humor Channel.
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Copyright © 2003 by John Fries, Pittsburgh, PA.
Please direct all correspondence to JohnFries@aol.com.