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‘Therapeutic clown’ spreads joy among young patients at JJ Hospital

By Rupsa Chakraborty, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON NOV 30, 2019 12:34 AM IST

On Friday, the paediatric ward of Sir JJ Hospital, Byculla, broke into laughter and applause, thanks to Nir Raz, a therapeutic clown, who was visiting from Israel.

Raz, 50, is a professional therapist and the visit was organised as part of the Maharashtra health department’s efforts in introducing clowning therapy in India.

Clowning therapy, also called medical clowning, is a part of paediatric medical care, in which therapists interact with child patients, using toys, dance and props to ease their anxiety during treatment. Though this therapy is not practised in India, many western countries have adopted it as a part of paediatric patient care. “We are not doctors, but we are given medical knowledge during our training. We communicate the medical conditions to children in a manner they can understand. We also ensure that they are not scared about their medical condition,” said Raz.

One of the patients who thoroughly enjoyed the session was a two-year-old girl, who underwent a bone fracture repair on her right leg, after falling down a flight of stairs. The toddler, along with 69 other child patients, enthusiastically participated in the session with Raz. “She is playful and mischievous. So she had become restless and sad after her surgery, as she has to stay in the bed the whole day. But after today’s session, she seemed cheerful,” said the girl’s father.

In Israel, therapeutic clowns engage children in oncology and paediatric departments in several activities, said Nimrod Kalmar, deputy chief of mission at Israel’s consulate general in Mumbai. “Such sessions play a significant part in treatment, as they divert minds of children from their illness through laughter and also help them combat physical pain,” said Kalmar.

Raz also shared his expertise with the hospital staff. Dr Sanjay Surase, medical superintendent of JJ Hospital, said, “Raz gave a presentation to the staff on the need for therapeutic clowning. It was a memorable experience to see the children laugh.”

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