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Hospitals Using Massage To Help Tiny Patients Deal With Pain

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(CBS) – Massage can be therapeutic and relaxing for anyone. In hospitals across the country, there is increasing proof that children can benefit as much as grown ups.

For some children, massages may be more than just a comfort, they might be a cure.

As Adrienne Bankert tells us, a Dallas hospital has been using massage therapy to help even the tiniest of patients recover from serious illnesses.

When medication doesn’t seem to eliminate all the pain, a gentle touch can.

“You’re going to move your arm away? Ok its okay I will follow you,” says massage therapist Wendy Smith to her patient, a tiny infant at Children’s Medical Center.

As she gently massages the infant’s arms, legs and back, she watches the baby’s reaction.

“A lot of what we do is follow non-verbal cues,” explained Smith. “They will guide you where they want to be touched. I watch carefully what the children are communicating.”

She works with children of all ages including Christopher Randall who has been receiving massage for about 10 years. He’s now fourteen.

“He has sickle cell disease. He came in with pain and fever,” said Christopher’s mom Keenna Bowers. “He sleeps but he is not sleeping calmly at night – every time he has massage he sleeps so calm. I hate to wake him up when he goes back to sleep.”

“I know I’m getting a massage and I know I’ll get some good rest and it’s a good experience every time,” said Christopher.

The benefits of massage in children are the same for adults – it can reduce pain. Help patients sleep. And it brings a positive experience to a hospital room.

“Touch is healing – from the minute we are born we are held and we are touched,” said Smith. “If I reach over and touch you – it communicates that I care.”

Christopher says when he gets a massage it feels like a weight has been lifted.

Each massage is individually tailored – based on the age and condition of the patient.

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