February 23, 2017

Pediatric Massage Offers Relief for Kids with Chronic Disease

Children dealing with serious diseases often face painful, yet necessary, medical procedures. They are also affected emotionally by long hospitalizations and isolation from family and friends. Parents can often feel powerless to bring relief to their child.

“It can be scary to see your child connected to multiple tubes and a big bag of chemo medicine connected to their tiny body,” said Amy Fisher, a certified pediatric massage therapist at Mission Hospital.

Pediatric massage can offer relief from physical and emotional symptoms in infants and children facing cancer and blood disorders. This service is offered by Mission Hospital’s Child Life team.

Benefits of Massage

“In pediatric cancer patients, massage helps relieve pain and discomfort,” said Krystal Bottom, MD, Mission Hospital. “In kids undergoing chemotherapy, massage can also help relieve nausea from medications.”

Dr. Bottom specializes in treating cancer and blood disorders in pediatric patients ranging from infants to late teens. “Massage therapy also helps relieve pain in patients with sickle cell disease who have frequent bouts of pain crises,” said Dr. Bottom.

Evidence-based benefits of pediatric massage also include reduced stress, anxiety, fear and depression, said Fisher. “Massage takes the child out of their ‘fight or flight’ mode and calms the central nervous system.”

Designed to Be Child Friendly

A doctor must first give approval before pediatric massage treatment, which is designed to be child friendly, said Fisher. “We incorporate toys, puppets and different sensory items. Children stay clothed during sessions, and session times vary depending on age and medical condition.”

A pediatric massage session is given by a certified pediatric massage therapist and usually lasts about an hour at most, said Dr. Bottom. “Massage therapy doesn’t prolong the child’s stay. We make the session convenient for children and their parents. We have found that most patients who have experienced the benefits of massage come back to request it again,” she said.

Fisher said massage sessions always focus on the child being in control. “The child chooses where to be massaged and what type of massage provided. It is always up to the child to decide whether he or she wants a massage, and it’s important that stays the child’s choice,” she said.

Pediatric massage is also an incredible tool to teach parents, said Fisher. “This is something a parent or caregiver can use to help with pain and aid in bonding with their child.”

Krystal Bottom, MD, is a pediatric oncologist and hematologist at Mission Hospital. Amy Fisher is a certified pediatric massage therapist and a child life specialist at Mission Hospital.

To learn more about our pediatric massage services, call (828) 213-2547.