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8. Healing – Healing of Broken Bones, Post-Surgical Wound Healing

In 1999, researchers at Harvard Medical School studied 11 people with fractured bones and concluded that those participants who used hypnosis healed faster (by 2½ weeks), required less pain medication, showed more improvement in ankle mobility, and had an easier time descending stairs.[8.1]

In 2003, researchers at Harvard Medical School studied 18 patients who had breast reduction surgery. They concluded that those participants who used hypnosis healed significantly faster than those who did not use hypnosis.[8.2]


8.1. Using Hypnosis to Accelerate the Healing of Bone Fractures: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study

Results: Radiographs taken at 6 weeks showed that the hypnosis group were healing much faster than the control group (it was estimated that it took the control group another 2½ weeks to achieve the same level of healing). Other assessments also revealed that those who had used hypnosis required less medication for the pain, had a significant improvement in the mobility of their ankle, and had an easier time descending stairs then did those in the control group. The authors concluded that hypnosis can accelerate the healing of fractured bones and: ...this preliminary study reinforces findings of a fascinating link between mind and body in augmenting healing. If the mind can be harnessed to accelerate the speed of healing in a difficult test – that is, the relatively fixed, normative course and time frame of a non-displaced bone fracture – it may be even more effective in other applications in which the course of healing is presumed more variable.

Notes: In this study, 11 subjects who had fractured bones were randomly assigned to a control or a hypnosis group. All subjects received the standard care for orthopedic patients (which included clinical assessments and radiographs over the 12 weeks following the fracture). The hypnosis group received a series of individual office visits as well a audiotapes reinforcing the content of the hypnotic sessions. Direct and indirect suggestions were given to reduce inflammation and swelling, alleviate pain, stimulate tissue growth and fusion at the injury site and counteract the psychological distress associated with injury. Hypnotic mental rehearsal of increased ankle mobility, enhanced bone strength, and recovery of normal activities for rehabilitation were included.

Altern Ther Health Med. 1999 Mar;5(2):67-75
By: C. S. Ginandes, Clinical Instructor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Senior Attending Psychologist, McLean Hospital
D. I. Rosenthal, Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, Director of Dept. of Bone and Joint Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston

8.2. Can Medical Hypnosis Accelerate Post-Surgical Wound Healing? Results of a Clinical Trial

Results: The researchers found that during the 7 weeks following surgery, those who were in the hypnosis group healed significantly faster then those in the other two groups. This study concluded that hypnosis can significantly accelerate the healing of surgical wounds.

Notes: Eighteen patients who were due to have surgery to reduce the size of their breasts were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group (the control group) received standard care; the second group received 8 "supportive" sessions (to make sure that the outcome was not simply the result of the extra attention paid to the patients); while the third group received 8 hypnosis sessions that focused on accelerating the healing of their surgical wounds. Digital photographs were taken and various objective techniques were used to measure the rate of healing.

Am J Clin Hypn. 2003 Apr;45(4):333-51
By: C. Ginandes, P. Brooks, W. Sando, C. Jones, J. Aker, Department of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478, USA

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