In Israel, medical clowning is both serious business and an art form.
Clowns receive extensive training and aid in patient care in a variety of settings, including trauma situations and even the delivery room.
Now, a team of medical clowns is taking their act abroad to help those impacted by the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
Larry Rich said that when clown therapy was introduced to adult patients years ago, no one was sure what to expect.
However, the director of development at Emek Medical Center, said that soon both patients and doctors realized the benefits of clown therapy.
“Since then, the therapeutic influence of a medical clown’s presence has been well documented,” Rich said, pointing to studies backing up the effectiveness of the clowns.”So the step into the traumatic world of post-earthquake Nepal was another natural step in unconventional therapy.”
Rich said that while in Nepal the clowns will do the same work they do in Israeli clinics, help calm the patients and help take their mind off their medical woes.
“The key is to take a patient’s mind off their pain and immediate situation and transfer them to a magical world of fantasy and fun,” he said.
“The Dream Doctors do just that and more, and are proving that even the trauma of a devastating earthquake may be temporarily moved aside to make way for smiles and laughter.”
It seems to be working. On Facebook, one of the clowns named “Dush” shared his experience with a badly wounded little boy who needed surgery but was waiting for his parents to arrive to approve the procedure.
“The odor of the wounded leg comes and goes, threatening to end our game,” Dush wrote.” Lucky I have a red nose, a nose which protects me from bad smells, from disasters…Now one of the doctors becomes a ‘victim’ — when he turns around, I stick a balloon in the middle of his butt. He laughs loudly, a rolling laugh of pain and wounds.”
The clowns have also visited the camps full of displaced and traumatized people.
“We sang and danced, and in the end, the children would not let us go until we ‘high-fived’ them,” another clown named “Max” said of the experience. “This place is where once in a lifetime experiences happen 10 times a day.”