Healthy nurturing touch is vital for optimal growth and development. Research supports the benefit of paediatric massage for numerous physical and psychological health conditions.
Massage reduces stress and the stress hormones, enabling children to sleep better, eat better and feel less depression and anxiety.
For all children, adolescents and young adults who receive massage, their privacy, safety and care are the number one priority. Child permission and empowerment is a priority, so the opportunity for a child to be in control of their body and be able to refuse touch is also welcome. Positive safe touch and autonomy over their own body is a key outcome.
Touch is especially important for sick children … especially nurturing touch. Much of touch they receive while undergoing treatment may be painful and unwelcome. Depending on the diagnosis and treatment plan, it has been estimated that some children may receive over five hundred painful touch interventions. Paediatric oncology massage can provide the contrast of gentle comforting touch, as a care intervention, with the intent to ease some of the symptoms and side effects of treatment. Adverse symptoms commonly experienced by paediatric cancer patients including nausea, physical pain, anxiety, depression, weight loss, and hair loss during treatment. Research findings indicate that some of these can be improved by massage therapy.
Empowering parents to soothe their child by teaching them simple massage strokes is part of paediatric oncology massage.
Children with complex conditions and special health needs include children with a diagnosis of a neuro-degenerative disorder, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder. They may have chronic musculo-skeletal disorders or sensory processing disorders. Symptoms associated with a diagnosis and treatment may be eased through massage. Specially adapting nurturing touch and gentle massage can benefit their quality of life. And it can also become part of their palliative care plan.
Children with asthma related breathing difficulties may show an increase in pulmonary capacity after receiving a short massage. Paediatric massage may help ease the contractures in the hands of a child with cerebral palsy. The effects of touch therapy on children with autism have also been found to have profound effects on their development and wellbeing. Adolescents hospitalised with burn injuries have reported decrease in pain after massage. Massage to a healthy limb may better enable them to cope with painful procedures like skin debridement to a burned limb.
Touch therapy is often used to support infants in the NICU, as touch is the first of a baby’s senses to mature. Whilst being cared for and treated in the NICU, touch can be uncomfortable and stressful, which is why it can be important to use touch therapy to encourage them to instead feel calm, cared for and relaxed. Studies have also shown that touch therapy massage can assist premature babies with sleeping, brain development, boosting their immune system and circulation and aiding the digestive system.
Judy’s specialised paediatric massage therapy training has been with Tina Allen of the USA based Liddle Kidz Foundation. Tina is an internationally respected teacher in this field. She has helped numerous USA children’s hospitals and health facilities to set up paediatric massage programs. Her outreach program brings paediatric massage to areas of great need throughout the world.
Our mobile services allow our younger clients to receive massage treatments from any location that suits either them or their or guardian.
Call Judy on 0423 041 122 if you have any questions regarding paediatric massage.
Madeleine was seven years old and was diagnosed with leukaemia. She was tired all the time. And her mother had promised her a special massage after the next round of chemo. Madeleine lay on my massage table and enjoyed every soft gentle stroke of her first massage. On Madeleine’s back we did a massage story and I showed her mother how to do it also. Madeleine had several massages, and she loved them all. She wanted to know how my hands did massage, so I taught her how to massage her toy giraffe. Maybe she could try on her mother or father.
Joe, a teenager near end of life, was in the Intensive Care Unit, and was receiving some gentle touch. He opened his eyes. He gazed into mine for a few seconds, then closed them again. He looked deeply relaxed. He fell asleep. I left. I stepped outside the Intensive Care Unit and took a deep breath. That was the same room, the same bed, where I had seen my daughter die a few years earlier. I was able to offer Joe some compassionate touch on one more occasion before he died.
Eve was a twelve year old girl who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She was coping well with her treatment. Her mother had received a massage from me earlier and wished for her daughter to also receive one. When I met Eve she was lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to chemotherapy. She was a bit tentative as she had not received massage before, only some back rubs from her mother. She was willing though, to try it, and to put her games machine aside and ask her younger brother to mute his. With massage music quietly playing, Eve quickly relaxed into her massage. Even with infusion equipment beeping from time to time and staff coming in to hand over in hushed tones, Eve remained in a state of deep relaxation, barely awake. She enjoyed the massage and said that she would like some more another time.
Thank you for my massage. It was really relaxing and enjoyable. I drifted off to sleep and when I woke up I felt much better. It helps me feel calm.
“Really nice” “She loved it” “Really good … really fantastic” “This is fantastic…I’ll come back again anytime, even when I am well”
“How did she get so good at that?” – 8 year old comment to her mother “She was very flat before, now she is very energised” – mother
My son finds it relaxing and it destresses him, allowing him to focus on “nice feelings” instead of health concerns. It should be offered as complimentary therapy on ward for oncology patients able to “manage” such therapy.
Mrs Valero is very passionate about oncology massage and this is demonstrated in her knowledge of paediatric oncology massage and all in the time she spends with and level of care she takes in working with families. … The feedback we have received from clients whom she has provided massage therapy to and the treating medical teams has been incredibly positive and the direct benefits to the children have been noted including: assistance with pain relief, stress reduction, lowered anxiety levels & increased self-confidence.
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