LoveYourBrain Tip: Laughter Is Therapeutic





Last week’s tip touched on the positive impacts of humor on the brain and body. While this applies to everyone’s brain, laughter can be especially influential in the rehabilitation process following a brain injury.

Humor extends far beyond one-liners and punchlines. It’s a universal language that connects us all and impacts how we relate, cope, and express individuality...some of the most basic and important factors to honor when helping someone during their healing process.

Rehab is hard! It’s physically, cognitively and emotionally challenging, often leaving little room for play and fun. Incorporating humor into your care can help elevate mood, increase optimism and foster resilience. It strengthens social connection and trust, leading to decreased stress for the person with a TBI and their family, as well as reduced compassion fatigue for healthcare professionals. The following are some ideas of how a rehab team can bring more laughter into the therapy setting, easing the rigors of rehab and promoting a positive approach to challenging situations.

Ideas for the rehab team:

  • Start with a smile and a reminder that you are here to give support for the daily ups and downs of the rehab process

  • Pay close attention to each person’s individualized sense of humor and how this influences motivation and dealing with frustration

  • Incorporate jokes or story telling into therapy plans to address goals such as memory, comprehension, articulation, intonation, facial expression and reading social cues

  • Teach positive ways to manage stress, frustration and negative thinking by modeling how to use humor in challenging situations

  • Provide education about the parts of the brain involved in humor, especially when impacted by the injury

  • Post daily jokes, comics or funny photos in common areas and treatment spaces

  • Remember that you can promote laughter and fun while maintaining a high level of competence, professionalism and positive outcomes

As we near the end of National Humor Month, think about how you and your rehab team can add a dose of laughter to your comprehensive approach in providing meaningful person-centered care.