Laughter and good nursing 'can combat leg ulcers'

The occasional laugh and good nursing is a more efficient way to heal leg ulcers than the latest technology, it has been suggested.

A team from Leeds University has found that low-dose ultrasound for this type of ailment is failing to speed up recovery times.

Professor Andrea Nelson, lead researcher on the report - which has been published in the British Medical Journal - said the key for these patients is to stimulate blood flow from the legs back up to the heart.

She noted the best way to do this is with compression bandages and support stockings, used in conjunction with sound dietary and exercise advice.

"Having a really hearty chuckle can help too. This is because laughing gets the diaphragm moving and this plays a vital part in moving blood around the body," Professor Nelson added.

Professor Peter Stratton, Chartered Psychologist, Fellow of the British Psychological Society and Chair of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, recently claimed psychotherapy can help tackle a wide range of ills, including depression.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Christine Bundy said: "In studies like this with more than one active component, it's not possible to identify which component was the effective one without good controls in place and testing each element individually."

"It is claimed that laughter is 'good medicine' but this has never really been tested empirically."

"However, we know that laughing confers a sense of well being and this is probably due to the release of endorphins associated with increased pleasant arousal."

"It is now established from well controlled psychological studies that stress impairs wound healing, so if we accept that laughter is the antidote to stress then these findings should be explored more scientifically and promoted as part of good care."

"Good nursing in the form of high technical proficiency (appropriate use of effective treatment methods used correctly) and emotional support including promoting self-efficacy and a sense of control is likely to be more effective than over-reliance on technology without the essential nursing and psychological support that patients in poor health require."