VisionsMedia Uses Australian Research Which Finds Laughter May Be Strong Medicine for Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients

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New Research on Laughter found by VisionsMedia powers the iPhone/iPad app – “The Gift of Laughter” as it aims to offer an easy method to deliver the powerful medicine that comes from humor.

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Perhaps a 5 minute daily laugh will be part of a regular regimen of general wellness therapy for all of us. ‘The Gift of Laughter’ app is just one step in making it easier to deliver that dose of laughter.

Exposing Alzheimer's patients to "humor therapy" appears as effective as psychiatric drugs in reducing the agitation that often plagues those struggling with dementia, new Australian research suggests.

In a three-month period, nursing home residents who actively participated in a weekly two-hour clowning session involving music, mime and humorous props showed a significant reduction in both physically and verbally aggressive behavior.

VisionsMedia, producer of a new iPhone/iPad app aimed to find a ways to package the benefits of laughter therapy in an easily deliverable hand-held device. After much planning, design and programming, Fred Burger’s company VisionsMedia/BurgerDesign created the iPhone/iPad app. Many happy users and health professionals have found the easy-access video clips on the iPhone/iPad app — which features fifty, 15 to 20 seconds clips of real people laughing — can be viewed and shared one at a time, as a group (“Play all”), or on a loop (“Continuous Play”).

Burger based his program on the theories and work of Norman Cousins and others who studied the healing and therapeutic power of laughter. Convinced that laughter could heal one’s soul and in turn the mind and body, Burger set out to capture laughter that could be accessed instantly with just the touch of a finger. The iTunes App store made that dream a reality.

According to Burger, “we are just starting to scratch the surface in discovering all of the benefits of laughter therapy. This latest study is a wonderful example of how laughter can be used to treat illness in a healthy way without the intervention of medications. I look forward to see many more studies of this kind in the future.” He went on to say, “Perhaps a 5 minute daily laugh will be part of a regular regimen of general wellness therapy for all of us. ‘The Gift of Laughter’ app is just one step in making it easier to deliver that dose of laughter.”

The 20-percent plunge in overall agitation, which the Australian team attributed to humor therapy, lasted for at least 14 weeks beyond the conclusion of the clowning program, the investigation team found. The result: "The humor intervention worked well for pretty much everyone," Bell noted, particularly for the "highest-care" patients deemed most debilitated by dementia. As an added bonus, the impact was achieved without running any of the risk for serious side effects previously associated with prescription antipsychotic drugs.

Bell and Australian colleagues (at the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, the University of New South Wales and Prince of Wales Hospital, among others) recently presented the findings at the National Dementia Research Forum, in Sydney.

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Frederick P. Burger
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