2013 – Research Round-up: Focus on Infant and Paediatric Massage

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Four studies: A look at literature discussing the benefits of therapeutic massage for infants and young children. STUDY 1: School to Study Massage for Paediatric Oncology Patients The role of massage in paediatric oncology will be studied in , thanks to a grant from the SickKids Foundation to Centennial College, in Toronto, Ontario earlier this year. Researchers will study whether gentle massage techniques can be taught easily to parents with children with cancer, and if by teaching parents how to massage their child, both parents and children will feel better. According to a Massage Magazine article, an increasing number of clinical studies indicate that massage therapy “shows promise as a complementary treatment for children with cancer to reduce pain and increase quality of life” It also shows promise as an intervention that helps reduce depression and anxiety in the parent giving the massage.” – Source: Massage Magazinewww.massagemagazine.com STUDY 2: Massage and Exercise Improve Bone Mineralization in Premature Infants Daily physical activity and massage help increase bone mineralization in premature infants, according to recent research conducted by staff at George Washington University Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C.; and the Ain Shams University School of Medicine, in Cairo, Egypt. Thirty premature infants with a gestational age of 35 weeks or less and a postnatal age of less than two weeks participated in the study. The infants were randomly assigned to either the control group or the activity group, where they received physical activity including range-of-motion exercises as well as massage consisting of slow, gentle strokes to each part of the infants’ body. Exercise and massage were provided to each infant until they reached a weight of approximately two kilograms. The control group did not receive any intervention. Type of feeding was recorded for both groups, including the amount of calories, calcium, phosphorus and protein given per day. The researchers came to the conclusion that “(p)hysical activity combined with infant massage stimulates bone formation in premature infants as evidenced by an increase in PICP, a biochemical marker of bone formation, and an increase in PTH activity, which may further stimulate bone growth and mineralization,” Source: George Washington University Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; Ain Shams University School of Medicine in Cairo, Egypt. Authors: Hany Aly, M.D., Mohamed F. Moustafa, Sahar M. Hassanein, An N. Massaro, Hanna A. Amer and Kantilal Patel. Originally published in Journal of Perinatology, 2004, Vol. 24, pp. 305-309. Quoted in: Massage Magazine www.massagemagazine.com STUDY 3: The Many Benefits of Infant Massage Massage may help infants aged under six months sleep better, cry less and be less stressed. A team of researchers from Warwick Medical School and the Institute of Education...

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Massage for the little one: Vital for baby and both parents

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Gayle Friedman, former secretary of MTA and currently an honorary member, is a pregnancy therapist and yoga teacher for pregnant women and children. She gives a few pointers about baby massage for both therapeutic massage therapists and parents:  Massaging the baby is vital for both the parents and the baby. It allows the family to bond while at the same time assisting the baby’s growth.  It gives a sense of security and well-being.  Massage calms the baby and soothes the little ones who struggle to settle easily. It teaches the baby about the pleasure experience and it enhances non-verbal communication between parents and baby. Choose a time when the baby is not tired and hungry and keep the sessions short (about 20 minutes will suffice). About half an hour after a feed is a good time to massage the baby. Parents needn’t be overly concerned about hurting the baby. Gentle touch won’t hurt and the baby will communicate discomfort. Go with the flow and movement of the child. Don’t even attempt to stick to a rigid procedure. Make sure the room is warm – use a heater or work in a sunny area. Warm the hands and place lubricants in warm water before applying to the baby’s body. Work on the bed or a mat on the floor. The best way is to sit with bare legs outstretched on a towel (in case of an accident). This encourages skin contact and gives the baby a sense of security. First position baby on the back with his or her head on the parent’s knees and the feet in the groin area. Once the front of the body has been massaged, turn the baby onto the tummy across the knees. This encourages free movement and helps strengthen the neck muscles. As with adults, work from centre outwards using gentle...

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A personal experience: Massage helped me really enjoy my baby

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Samantha Townsend of Sun Valley, Fish Hoek realized the benefits of touch during pregnany even before she qualified as a therapeutic massage therapist: My experience of massage during my second pregnancy is an experience I have never forgotten. I felt very connected to my baby especially during resting phases at the beginning and at the end of the sessions when the therapist applied static touch. I was comfortable and warm and felt safe with a confident and firm therapist. Throughout the sessions I would lie on my side with strategically positioned pillows (knees and chest) and draped with a sheet. My therapist swiftly dealt with my particular complaint of pain in between my shoulders but she also managed to increase my overall well being. I felt cared for and able to manage a home, my four year old and my pregnancy as a result of the support that my body experienced from the sessions. Therapeutic massage also allowed for a more comfortable recovery as my body’s balance had been maintained. One doesn’t feel quite so traumatized after the birth process. It helped me to really enjoy the new...

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