Send in the clowns. They’re already here…

Clowns and children. They have been a match for countless generations. But now clowns are helping kids when they need it the most.

Meet the Dream Doctors. Already at work in more than 20 hospitals around Israel, they help to minimise anxiety in children who are undergoing medical procedures. These therapeutic medical clowns are now an integral part of the healthcare staff and have been trained to work as part of multidisciplinary teams.

A three-year study involving 120 children revealed that therapeutic intervention by medical clowns effectively lowered patients’ situational anxiety during invasive procedures. The areas focused on were the units for the Treatment of Sexual Assault Victims and the Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Unit, but the medical clowns are involved in many other hospital departments.

A Dream Doctor for more than 14 years, Shoshi Ofir said that previous studies proved the effectiveness of clowning on general anxiety levels in these two clinics.

“We want people in other clinics and hospitals to know that if they introduce clowns to their teams, invasive exams will be easier for the children, their parents and the medical staff,” Ofir said.

The Dream Doctors are there lightening the load in more than 40 various medical procedures, including taking blood samples, accompanying patients to surgery and other painful and complex procedures, such as injections directly into the joints, burn therapies, and accompanying child victims of sexual abuse during their examinations, the Dream Doctors website stated.

According to the website, the therapeutic clowns are by training performing artists and experienced actors, and use a wide variety of techniques during procedures to distract child patients, including creating a fantasy world centering on the medical equipment used, as well as using role play.

Each patient is approached according to their individual situation with extreme sensitivity and attentiveness, and treated regardless of religion, national origin, ethnicity or gender, the website explained.

Click here to read more about the work of the Dream Doctors and to hear more about people making such a positive difference in children’s lives.


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