laughter a multi-pronged tool

02/28/2015 at 11:56 AM Leave a comment

I will admit that I not only love to laugh, I particularlly love making others laugh. Specially a deep, gut, unexpected laugh. And its value in creating a good doctor patient atmosphere would be hard to overstate. However, unbeknownst to most of my patients is the  many other uses to which I put such a common human reaction. 1. humor is complicated, it requires the brain to make unexpected associations and in many cases to keep several items in memory. In this way I find it useful to determine how a patient’s brain is functioning; usually in the evaluation of dementia, depression but also post concussion and severe illness. 2. It requires lots of air to laugh which makes this very useful in my younger patients, say 2 or 3 years of age. they won’t take a deep breath on command with a stethoscope on their backs but get them giggling or laughing and you can hear how they are breathing. Going forward I find that children are not as scared of coming back if they expect ‘the silly doctor’ to interact with them. 3. If you are depressed, particularly significantly so, or if you are feeling quite miserable it takes too much energy to laugh, although by looking at their face I can tell if they ‘got’ the humor. It helps me sort out who is hurting much more than they are saying and also the opposite. 4. it is a huge distraction from whatever the current complaint is and timed appropriately it allows me to examine a joint, or belly or lump without them anticipating pain, or in other cases from amplifying the pain. 5. It makes the time that we spend together more pleasant and perceived as longer or at least as more connected (IMHO) and further compensates for any waiting time they had. 6. It softens patients perception of me in my role as a doctor with all that comes implied with that. Makes me much more approachable by both adults, elderly and as mentioned above, children. Approachableness is hard to overestimate, it allows for a much better interaction, better data collection, better patient recollection, and more willingness in the patient to remember and follow directions.


Entry filed under: Doctor Musings, life thoughts. Tags: , .

To be a Hero While speaking of fossils

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