Considering a Career in Pediatric Massage
By: Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Now, a modality that hadn’t been spoken of in the past is starting to receive mainstream medical credibility. This acceptance allows for a massage therapist to truly follow their passion and begin providing massage therapy for children who are healthy or have special healthcare needs.
To a child who has been hospitalized, or diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, their symptoms are often accompanied by pain, anxiety, loneliness and fear. So it only makes sense that healthcare staff and medical facilities are looking to pediatric massage as treatment for some of these symptoms.
Research has shown that massage therapy can ease both physical symptoms as well as, emotional discomforts 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. This healing touch therapy also provides comfort, relaxation, reduction of stress hormones and relief from chronic conditions such as asthma, nausea, constipation and muscle aches.
Immediately after receiving massage, children with mild to moderate juvenile rheumatoid arthritis notice decreased anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. For young patients with Autism their aversion to touch decreases with massage, while their ability to focus increases. Pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis report feeling less anxious, and their ability to breathe and pulmonary functions improved.
Scientific research is useful in documenting the health benefits of massage for children with Asthma. In one study performed by the Touch research Institute at the University of Miami, children with asthma experienced improved pulmonary function after receiving massage therapy administered by their parents. The parents were taught to provide massage therapy for 20 minutes every night before bedtime.
Young children (ages four to eight years) were shown to have decreases in behavioral anxiety and stress hormone immediately after massage. Also, their attitude toward their asthma conditions improved. Children also experienced improved airway caliber and control of their asthma. These findings document some of the very real benefits to providing massage therapy for children with asthmatic conditions.
Education and Training
For the massage therapist or healthcare professional considering pediatric massage, there are many considerations to prepare for providing age specific and development appropriate therapy. Further training in pediatric massage is required to feel fully confident working with children within medical institutions. This additional training can be obtained by attending conferences and workshop related to specific childhood health conditions that you are drawn to working with, and also through specialized pediatric massage therapy training.
When considering your pediatric massage education you should do your homework and research. As this field is just emerging as an accepted modality, it is imperative to find a quality training program from the most current educator. If you want to be competitive in a field, you must first start with the strongest core foundation to be successful.
For more information on Comprehensive Pediatric Massage Training visit www.LiddleKidz.com