Laughter therapy has its perks for brain injury patients

SASKATOON – We’ve heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine.” For a group of brain injury patients at the Saskatchewan Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured (SARBI), that saying has proven to be true.

Helen Bzdel is a world laughter leader and has been working with the patients at SARBI for about two years.

“With people with brain injuries there’s all sorts of different levels of functioning and memory and I found that some of them remember me or the laughter exercises,” said Bzdel.

The therapy incorporates creativity, breathing techniques and of course laughter. But what causes the laughter isn’t a joke but the initial laughter set by the laughter leader which becomes contagious.

“I have to be clear. We are not up telling jokes. We’re here helping you get some movement and some exercise,”said Bzdel.

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Garry Sales has been practicing laughter lead by Bzdel for two years and has seen exceptional improvement both psychically and emotionally.

“It gives you a happy feeling because you’re participating with people who have similar tragedies to your own. So it’s makes you feel good knowing you’re not alone,” said Sales.

The benefits go beyond that feel good feeling laughter provides it also conditions the abdominal muscles, releases endorphins and reduces blood pressure.

Bzdel holds laughter therapy sessions once or twice a month at SARBI. There will also be a laughter leader training workshop at the Sherbrooke Community Centre Apr. 26-27.


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