by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated July 2013
Massage for Children with Asthma
Asthma continues to increase in the US and around the world. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the prevalence of asthma around the world has doubled in the last 15 years. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that prevalence among persons up to 17 years old increased about 5% per year from 1980 to 1995. According to a recent New York Times article, "Asthma Becoming an Urban Epidemic," the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are staggering: the number of asthma sufferers has more than doubled in less than twenty years, skyrocketing from 6.7 million in 1980 to 17.3 million in 1998.
The cause of asthma in Young Children
While the cause of asthma is not known, we do know that some develop asthma as young children; others develop it later in life. However, research shows some indication that family history, obesity, viruses, or exposure to tobacco smoke, cockroaches or dust mites as a child might lead one to develop asthma.
Asthma is not always easy to diagnose, especially for the youngest patient, children under the age of five. Regular physical exams that include checks of lung breathing and checks for allergies can help healthcare providers to make the correct diagnosis.
Yes, children can become hospitalized due to Asthma
According to H-CUP (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project), there were 335,000 asthma-related pediatric stays in 2006; these stays accounted for 13.5 percent of all pediatric hospitalizations (excluding newborns). The rate of hospitalization principally for asthma among children living in the poorest communities was 76 percent greater than it was among children living in wealthier communities. There were 8.0 asthma-related hospital stays per 1,000 children under one year of age. This age group had the highest rate of asthma-related hospitalizations.
With these staggering statistics, it’s no wonder, that parent and caregivers are looking for various asthma remedies. In addition to the many medications that are recommended for pediatric patients with Asthma, parents and healthcare providers are looking towards managing Asthma with other complementary therapies.
Massage therapy for Children with Asthma
Although, again we are not sure of the exact cause of all asthmatic conditions, there have been important findings that many believe stress management can aid in flare-ups or the prevention of “asthma attacks”. Massage therapy is one very viable source of reducing stress, anxiety and promoting relaxation.
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.
For parents who wish to learn more about providing massage for their children who have been diagnosed with Asthma
It is important to find a qualified practitioner. When looking for a practitioner, consider someone who has had specific training in pediatric massage. A Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist has the ability to not only provide massage for your child, but also to show you techniques you can use on your own. These massage therapy and nurturing touch techniques can provide many of the benefits research has demonstrated to aid in relieving some of the discomfort associated with childhood Asthma.
Massage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist. Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.
For more information visit Comprehensive Pediatric Massage Training Course (CPMT)
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