Movies are capable of arousing strong emotions making the cinema can a tool, able to open your mind. The Humanitas Foundation with Medicinema have begun a course of treatment and neurological rehabilitation based on viewing a series of first-run movies.

Dr. Bruno Bernardini, Head of Neurological Rehabilitation at Humanitas, discusses cinema as a therapy.

What is the project about?

The collaboration between Medicinema and Humanitas, started three years ago with a project which aimed to begin a series of recently released movies within a therapeutic rehabilitation routine.

The movies were targeting both patients and relatives aiming to create a moment of participation in a delicate situation such as that of neurological rehabilitation, which can last from several weeks to a few months.

This is a period encumbered with anxiety and uncertainty for the patient. Introducing stories told in the film could somehow ease patient anxiety and stress.


What are the benefits?

It is undeniable that the patient and the general audience feel the need to find something relatable in the film. When a patient feels empathy towards a character they are able to disrupt the torpor. This could be very benificial to the viewer who is in a stage of neurological rehabilitation.

The beneficial effects are determined by the distracting capacity from a personal condition which is causing anxiety and the ability of the patient to project themselves into the future, instilling hope.

Furthermore, the film within a rehabilitation department enriches the stimuli of the environment since patients share the stories. It is a simulation that activates the cognitive point of view, facilitating social relations. If the conversation that cinema is able to instill carries on with those who work with patients there is a more human exchange in place of “medical” talk.

That is why Humanitas is continuing to revive the cinema and has scheduled another series of films, with the intention to renew the success achieved in past experience.

The project is supported by a psychologist who oversees the possible negative effects. The possibility of side effects, does exist although the film does not constitute a real drug.


What films are more successful in therapy?

During the first cycle of films we observed that the break is of fundamental importance for the patient. It creates a kind of suspension from the discomfort caused by the disease. Comedies are very successful as they distract from pain and negative thoughts.

The French film, “The Intouchables” is scheduled for screening next. It is the story of a wealthy patient who finds himself suddenly quadriplegic, but cognitively intact. As a personal assistant he selects someone who lacks “professionalism” but can help him rediscover the joy of living.

Films like these are able to shake the viewer deep inside, giving him an intense experience. For this reason, the film was chosen as the ideal language to communicate with the patient.