- Working Hands
Is Massage Safe for Kids with Cancer?
Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
During a recent visit to a children’s hospital, the mother of a child approached me with a question. Amy, her little girl was only eight months old and diagnosed with Retinoblastoma (a rare childhood cancer arising from immature retinal cells in one or both eyes). Mom was pointed in my direction by the head nurse on duty, and when she approached she asked if I had given her daughter a massage. Earlier that day I visited the Retinoblastoma clinic, as I routinely do. During my visits I provide massage education to families and massage children while they wait for their turn on the exam table.
Today, mom and I started talking for a moment, and she wept while she thanked me for massaging her daughter. Every time Amy comes to the hospital she has to undergo anesthesia to receive routine eye exams. It is often difficult for a little child to lie still for an eye exam, so anesthesia becomes a necessary component to these visits. Over their twelve previous hospital visits, Amy hadn’t been able to relax and the experience was accompanied by screaming, crying, fear, anxiety and stress for all involved. Her mother shared how horrible it was to witness her baby in such pain without any way of comforting.
Mom had a tear in her eye and said, “Thank you for giving my daughter the medicine she needs to heal.” It was amazing to know that beyond just providing a massage session for a young girl, I had touched the entire family.
When a child is diagnosed with a difficult medical condition, or has to spend time in the hospital, their symptoms are often accompanied by anxiety, pain and fear. Parent and caregivers can be at a loss as to how they can participate in their child’s healthcare and make them more comfortable. This is where massage comes in. Not only can a skilled pediatric massage therapist provide hands-on massage for these children, but parents can be educated in simple techniques so they can do the same.
Complementary therapies are increasingly integrated into mainstream cancer programs and centers. According to Harvard Medical School researchers, almost 12 percent of children and adolescents in the United States use complementary or alternative medicines, known as CAM. About 66 percent of children with Cancer use some type of CAM. Although most studies have reported the effects of massage in adult patients, pediatric cancer patients also experience reduced pain after massage therapy. Massage is one of the most commonly used pain management strategies for pediatric patients newly diagnosed with leukemia. Research has shown that massage therapy can ease both emotional discomforts, as well as, physical symptoms associated with pediatric medical conditions. Studies conducted by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine show that massage can alleviate pain, anxiety and depression in pediatric clients. No one likes to think of a child being in pain, let alone having anxiety or depression. However, it is a reality for these children and their families. Massage can provide relief of the anxiety, pain and depression for children and their families and aid in their healing process.
Copyright (c) 2010 Liddle Kidz Foundation Infant and Children’s Pediatric Massage
Looking for expert advice and tips to help improve your child’s health? Find research proven answers to all your questions about
massage therapy for Cancer
at http://www.liddlekidz.com . Pediatric Massage Master Teacher, Tina Allen, founder of leading children’s health and nurturing touch organization Liddle Kidz Foundation, shares over ten years of expertise working with children and families.