We are in the middle of long, cold winter. This time of year can be tough on anyone, but can you imagine braving the cold weather and tackling your resolutions while having a child in the hospital? It’s hard to fathom the emotional state of parents who may be feeling scared, alone or frustrated by being with a sick child in the hospital when there is so much going on at home. Many parents have other children at home who may not understand why their siblings and parents are not around.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the only children’s hospitals to staff a department of full-time, licensed massage therapists. Here, massage therapy is integrated into the patient’s overall plan of care. Our licensed massage therapists attempt to alleviate the stress and emotional distress families go through at the hospital by providing calming and therapeutic touch.
Our massage therapy team provides services to patients of all ages with varying diagnoses and functional problems. These may include cystic fibrosis, asthma, sickle cell disease, limb salvage, migraine headaches, seizures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, heart transplant, burns, various orthopedic conditions, arthritis, detoxification, feeding disorders, anxiety, depression and even end-of-life care. We are here for all patients in need of comfort.
Patients report feeling less stressed or anxious after having a massage, but they are not the only ones to benefit — the effects of massage therapy can radiate to parents, visitors and other hospital staff who may be present in the room during a massage therapy session. Parents have reported a sense of peace and relief during the child’s massage when they see their child’s anxiety or discomfort directly impacted through touch. By creating a sense of peace in a child and in the room, we hope to transcend the pressure of busy, stressful schedules for our patients and their families, even if only for a short time.
Fun fact: It only takes 20 seconds of touch for oxytocin, a stress reducing hormone, to be released. So go out there and give 20 second hugs to all you see!
Mandy Sonk, LMT, became a licensed massage therapist in 2006. Since 2012 Mandy has worked as an inpatient massage therapist on the rehab floor. Her primary interests are with traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries and is certified in pediatric massage.
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