MASSAGE AND HEALTH RESEARCH: PART 118 Jul
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Part 1 of this series explores the relationship between the most commonly diagnosed behavioural disorder in childhood, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) and massage.
Estimated to affect between 3% and 5% of school aged children, the core symptoms of ADD/ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The impact of these symptoms includes difficulty in the classroom and in social relationships, as well as emotional instability.
Parents often struggle with how best to support their child who is finding it difficult to adjust to aspects of life such as social interactions and the school setting.
Medication is a common route however each child responds differently and there can be side effects such as loss of appetite, irritability, nausea, trouble sleeping and headaches.
Having a variety of treatments for the symptoms of ADD provides a strong model of care for individuals who have been diagnosed as well as their family and carers.
The role of Massage
Of the few studies on massage and ADHD that exist, positive results are suggested, which will only be strengthened with future research in this area.
A Case study
One 2003 study published by the Touch Research Institute observed that Massage Therapy improves mood and behaviour of students with ADD/ADHD. This was observed in the case study of a grade 3 boy who had symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and low grades.
To see if Massage Therapy reduced the boys ADD symptoms.
The boy received 20 minutes of massage including head, neck and hands, 4 times a week for 8 weeks. After each massage session, a basic questionnaire was answered by the boy. His behaviour was observed by his mother and teacher.
After the 8 week treatment, the teacher indicated a significant improvement in this student's behaviour and grades. The boy reported improvement in his quality of life and self-esteem. The mother of the boy reported satisfaction and mental peace about the fact that her son’s behaviour improved without the need of medications.
The conclusion of this case study was that relaxation and massage techniques reduce anxiety and activity levels in children and adolescents. This is a significant finding and provides the foundation to conduct further research studies on this topic.
Researchers may create studies which explore the impact of Massage Therapy on:
- the reduction in the severity of symptoms from ADD medication
- the improved quality of the parent/carer – child relationship
There is also a need for testing larger groups across a longer time period. Whether ADD is a physiological or a psychological condition, the benefits of massage to the general population may translate significantly to this study group and support a greater quality of life.
Next week, Part 2 of this series reports on research exploring the effectiveness of massage in supporting women with breast cancer.