Healthcare: On the Agenda - Laughing can help to heal leg ulcers

In a nutshell

Professors at the University of Leeds have suggested laughing may be the best treatment for patients with leg ulcers. A five-year study found ultrasound therapy did not speed up the healing process of leg ulceration, but having a 'hearty' laugh did have a positive effect.

What are venous leg ulcers?

Venous leg ulcers are common in people with varicose veins or mobility problems whose muscle pumps in the feet and calves struggle to drive blood up to the heart. These ulcers can be painful and unsightly and can have a huge negative impact on health and quality of life.

How can laughing help?

The research found that stimulating blood flow back up the legs to the heart was highly effective in treating leg ulcers. Professor Andrea Nelson from the University of Leeds' School of Healthcare, who led the study, said: 'The best way to do that is with compression bandages and support stockings, coupled with advice on diet and exercise. Believe it or not, 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.'

PR strategy

The press office at the University of Leeds handled the media outreach from the research in-house.

Coverage

The story was picked up widely across all media platforms. Highlights included coverage on ITV's Daybreak and national print coverage in the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and the Metro. 80% of all leg ulcers are venous leg ulcers*

70% of small ulcers will heal within 12 weeks*

*Source: NHS choices

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