Countless studies and pediatric research have shown that massage therapy is supremely beneficial for a wide variety of conditions in young children. As a matter of fact, these studies revealed that massage therapy for young children is a crucially important supplemental treatment to conventional medicine. However, these studies further showed that, in many cases, massage therapy on its own works better in relieving symptoms of many disturbing conditions than do medications and other standard procedures associated with Western medicine.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMA), more than twenty percent of all children, from newborns to toddlers and early school year children, are afflicted with eczema at some point in their young lives and roughly the same percentage is true for infants and young children suffering from traumatic burns. For that reason, the pain and suffering of trauma burns and eczema are counted among the most common pediatric skin conditions in the United States. Most studies bring to light the following findings:
• Young burn trauma patients who were treated with a massage therapy sessions for approximately thirty minutes before any kind of medical or nursing procedures, were more relax physically as well as mentally through the process and they, therefore, experienced less discomfort or pain.
It is important to stress here that the massage treatment was applied only to areas which were not affected by burns.
• Young children suffering from eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) who were given massage treatments before and while being treated with skin medications such as emollients and ointments exhibited less apprehension and they were more willing to cooperate. In addition, the physical conditions of their skins dramatically improved as redness subsided, as did lichenification, scaling, excoriation and pruritus.
The therapy in these conditions ideally consists of two phases. First phase — to ensure smooth strokes during the massage treatment, the child’s body is moisturized with a dermatitis medication. Second phase — being very careful to avoid particularly sensitive areas of the body, a series of varied massage techniques is used on the child’s face, chest, stomach, legs and arms.
The Children’s Mercy Hospital of Kansas City, Missouri has been using massage therapy to alleviate chronic pain from headaches and migraines in young children and, in the process, also relieving their levels of anxiety and distress, lowering their heart rates, improving their gastrointestinal systems, promoting the release of endorphins and bringing their entire bodies to a state of calmness. And all these positive effects seem to be immediate or nearly immediate.
Applying massage therapies to infants and young children is not at all a newly discovered concept as it has been a daily practice in the Eastern and African cultures for many generations. They understood that the first sense to develop in humans is the sense of touch and that it is essential to health and wellness. Massage treatments for the young members among ancient cultures served to heal, to energize, to calm and to reinforce close bonding and the sense of trust and security.
Having been working zealously on the subject of massage for young children for the past ten or so years, Dr. Tiffany Field and her associates at the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, Florida insist that, “Every child, no matter the age, should be massaged at bedtime on a regular basis.”