February 12, 1996
Web posted at: 10:50 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Mary Ann McRae
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Five-year-old Sean Mellon has pneumonia. And his doctors have just dropped by with his lunch. Dr. Stubs, Dr. Trikki and Dr. Noodles are on their "clown rounds," bringing an unusual medicine into a hospital room -- laughter.
Researchers want to find out the medical impact the clown care unit may have on the patients. In the coming month, clinical trials will begin at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center to try to determine whether laughter really does have the power to heal.
The clown doctors say they can see the impact clearly.
"When we come into a hospital room, the energy is usually fairly low," says Michael Christensen (Dr. Stubs). "And through music, through juggling, though fun, we get that energy vibrating." (221K AIFF sound or 221K WAV sound)
"After being in uncomfortable states in surgery, the clown kind of helps bring (the patient) back to his childhood and helps him want to get out of that unit," says Dr. John Driscoll of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
But there is no hard evidence that clowns really do help the healing process -- hence, the year-long study.
"Among the things that we'll be measuring will be physiological indices, such as heart rate, blood pressure, amount of medications given, amount of time in recovery room," says Fredi Kronenberg of the Rosenthal Center for Alternative Medicine.
There already is, however, plenty of anecdotal proof that clowns make both the patients and parents feel better -- proving that laughter may indeed be the best medicine. (969K QuickTime Movie)
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