Laughter Yoga Helps Paralyzed Teenager

Friday, 15 March 2013 11:18:40Back

Here is an interesting article of how Laughter Yoga helped 16 year old Micaela in Calgary to regain her confidence and improve her life after she was left completely paralyzed as a result of acute brain inflammation. It has been scientifically proven that laughter exercises have the ability to reduce pain, relieve stress and increase the supply of oxygen to the body and brain thereby strengthening the immune system and generating good health.

Read full report by Jenna Mc Murray, QMI Agency

Calgary - It turns out laughter may be the best medicine for a paralyzed Calgary teen. When sixteen-year-old Micaela -- who was born with a rare liver disease -- fell ill with the flu three years ago, it developed into meningitis and encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain that left her completely paralyzed. She was unable to speak, move or communicate.

Having attended laughing exercise groups in the past, Micaela's family was confident she could recover with the help of her sense of humour. "We knew she could hear us -- she got the punch lines, she knew the jokes were there," said mom Judith, who requested the family's surname be withheld.

With the help of two therapeutic clowns, Jumpa, a.k.a. Fif Fernandes, and Sparkle, a.k.a. Cheryl Oberg, at the Alberta Children's Hospital, Micaela began Laughter Yoga, to reduce pain and stress and increase oxygen intake through breathing and laughing exercises. "Three years ago we weren't sure we'd get to bring her home, so this is good, we're glad we're here," said Judith.

Laughter Yoga helped Micaela exercise her lungs and vocal muscles, allowing her to start speaking again and while still confined to a wheelchair, she has gained some motion back."It helped her express her voice again, it helped her feel a lot better -- more playful and less stressed," said Oberg. "The doctors and nurses take care of health care; we take care of the spirit."

Dr. David Chaulk, facility medical director and emergency pediatrician at the ACH, said the clowns' presence in the emergency room when he is prepping patients for stressful or painful procedures is also huge help. "Instead of an anxious child being focused on me, the clown can help distract them, relax them and the patient is not getting stressed watching what I'm doing," he said. The pair of clowns share one full-time position funded through donations to the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.

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