Touch therapy stimulates many physiological changes that help children grow and develop. It reduces anxiety, releases stress, improves pulmonary function, aids in bonding, increases pro-social behavior and interactions with others, improves motor development, and increases focus and attention to task.
Therapeutic massage is a wonderful modality to treat all kinds of common pediatric conditions. Here are some specific examples from research:
Asthma – reduced hospitalizations, decreased anxiety and stress hormone levels, peak air flow and pulmonary functions improved reducing the need for inhalers
ADD/ ADHD – may improve behavior classroom by reducing anxiety, hyperactivity, and daydreaming
Autism – reduces stereotypic behavior and increases social-relatedness behavior, decreases problems with sleep
Cancer – releases serotonin and increases natural killer cells, decreases anxiety and depression
Cerebral Palsy – reduces spasticity, increases muscle flexibility and motor function
Diabetes – Improves compliance with insulin and food regulation, improves mean glucose levels, reduces parent anxiety
Down Syndrome – improves muscle tone and performance on motor tasks
HIV – releases serotonin and increases natural killer cells, decreases anxiety, increases weight gain, improves performance on Brazelton Newborn Scale
Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome – reduces anxiety and depression, improves sleep
What happens during a pediatric massage session?
Pediatric massage is tailored specifically to the unique needs and personality of each child. Children often remain fully clothed during a session, as skin to skin contact is not essential. It is important that clothing is nonrestrictive and comfortable. Sessions are conducted on a massage table and can be playful in nature, involving storytelling, singing, and playing with puppets and texture-rich toys. Sessions typically last 30-45 minutes and caregiver participation is encouraged.