Every body needs to be touched.
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.
Clinical trials reporting on the effects of massage for children with cancer are less common than those trials with adults.
Wolf Mehling, in 2012, found that children reported fewer days of mucositis, lower overall symptom burden, feeling less tired and rundown, having less severe symptoms of pain, nausea and fatigue, and less pain. Children reported increased contentedness, decreased depression but not decreased anxiety. Mata Batalha, 2013, found that massage contributed to relieve pain and the impact of pain on the child’s activities and that it was significantly effective in reducing the interference of pain in walking.
In 2004, Sean Phipps reported on the effects of massage with children undergoing bone marrow transplant. He found that massage, both parental and professional, significantly reduced the days to engraftment. Professional massage also significantly reduced anxiety and discomfort for the child.
In 2001, Tiffany Field trialled the use of massage with children who had a leukaemia diagnosis. Results showed that these children had a significant increase in white blood cell and neutrophils counts. There was also a significant decrease in anxiety and depression for both parents and child.
Paediatric oncology massage adapts therapeutic touch to the needs of the child – whether they are a toddler or school aged child. Adolescents and young adults also enjoy this oncology massage care. 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 welcomed. Empowering parents to soothe their child by teaching them simple massage strokes is part of paediatric oncology massage.
Paediatric oncology massage is a specialised massage training, currently delivered in the USA. Tina Allen of the Liddle Kidz Foundation is an internationally respected teacher in this field. She has developed paediatric oncology massage programs at over twenty major hospitals and health care facilities. Integrative care for the treatment of childhood cancers is well established.
My specialised paediatric oncology massage training has been with Tina Allen.
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