Massage therapy is an effective intervention in a wide variety of situations. Beyond just making you feel good, it has important applications in assisting with healing from many traumas.
Massage therapy for hospitalized patients
In a project headed by Marlaine Smith of the University of Colorado done in 1999, Smith and her colleagues in the study determined that a hospital-based massage therapy program that was administered to patients:
- Increased relaxation for the patients
- Gave them a sense of well-being
- Created a positive mood change
- Increased mobility and energy
- Increased their participation in their treatment
- Facilitate a faster recovery.
Massage therapy for neglected and abused children
A 2014 report from the Children’s Defense Fund’s Annual State of America’s Children states that 1,825 children are victims of abuse or neglect every day in the United States. Child abuse is found at all socioeconomic levels, cultures and religions. It is endemic in our society.
Childhood abuse is also known as ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ as children who were abused generally grow up to be child abusers. Thus, it is important to find ways to not only break the cycle of abuse, but to help the victims of childhood abuse heal so they do not become perpetrators when they reach adulthood.
One way this is being done is via massage therapy. Studies have found that children who have been neglected and/or abused are touch deprived. Some have been touched in hurtful ways and some have rarely been touched at all. Because of a lack of loving, compassionate, affirming touch, they have difficulty forming attachments and developing meaningful relationships.
Massage therapy not only teaches these children what healthy, appropriate touch is, it helps them reconnect with their abused bodies so they can learn to recognize the signs of stress and mediate them.
Massage therapy’s efficacy for children and adults recovering from childhood sexual abuse
This particular form of child abuse affects more of our population than we would like to admit. Some authorities estimate that 4 out of every 5 children is sexually abused in America. Others list the number as lower than that because childhood sexual abuse often goes unreported, especially in boys.
A study in 2005 by C. J. Price showed that massage therapy was a helpful adjunctive therapy along with psychotherapy for adults who were sexually abused as children. People who are sexually abused as children tend to dissociate from their bodies, and massage therapy helps them reconnect with and regain a positive sense of their own bodies.
Autism and Tactile Sensitivity
Autism is a disorder defined as neurobehavioral one that affects a child’s socialization, language development, and skills in communication, and which involves repetitive rigid behaviors.
Tactile Sensitivity in children often results from a Sensory Processing Disorder. It involves a sensitivity to things that touch their bodies, including their clothes.
Deep pressure massage has been shown to help both children with autism and those with Tactile Sensitivity due to its positive interactions with the central nervous system.
Laying on of hands as a therapeutic intervention has been around for thousands of years. In the current century it has once again via massage therapy become an accepted treatment modality.