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Doctor Helps Stroke Victims by Treating Funny Bone

Newsmakers

August 25, 1987|ANN HEROLD

Humor is the best medicine, a Boston physician has found in his studies into brain damage suffered by stroke patients. Using a battery of rib-ticklers, Dr. Hiram Brownell of the Boston Veterans Administration Research Center becomes part comedian, part neuropsychologist as he reels off punch line after punch line and studies whether his patients get the joke. In his studies, for example, Brownell said he has found that patients with damage to the right hemisphere of the brain usually have little speech impairment and a fair memory, but they miss the point of a joke or story, or opt for a nonsensical punch line when given a choice. Brownell chose to study reactions to humor, he said, because it is often used to communicate a range of ideas and feelings, and any disruption of ability to understand or produce humor would affect the quality of life.

--Like many parents, he's finding the prospect of paying for a daughter's wedding rather daunting, so New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo has decided he will have to take out a loan to pay the expenses. Or he could sell souvenir ashtrays. "I haven't taken out a loan in years," said Cuomo, who makes $100,000 a year as governor. Cuomo's daughter Maria, 25, plans to marry shoe designer Kenneth Cole in a small ceremony at the executive mansion in Albany on Oct. 11. "We could have souvenir ashtrays made up and sell them for $100 each," Cuomo said. "On second thought, if you're going to write this, make it $200." Cuomo declined to say how much the loan was for.

--The lemonade stand was familiar, the plywood structure and others like it having served children for generations as they hawked drinks for cash, but the cause was a unique one--funds for the 4-year-old survivor of the crash of a jetliner in Detroit that killed at least 155 people. By the end of last weekend, 5-year-old Sadie Hill of Auburn, Mass., had raised more than $400 that she will send, along with two stuffed rabbits, to Cecilia Cichan, whose parents and brother were killed in the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255. Meanwhile, Cecilia was continuing to improve and ate some Popsicles over the weekend, her first food since the accident Aug. 16, said officials at C. S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., where Cecilia was listed in serious condition.

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