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Infant Massage with Child with Special Needs


I heard this nice story from one of the CEIMs I taught:

I work as a pediatric physical therapist primarily with infants with medical issues and developmental delays. I have one little boy (I’ll call him Bode) that I work with who is 18 months old and has a diagnosis of spastic cerebral palsy.  In addition to having cognitive and language delays, Bode has significantly high muscle tone that impacts his ability to move and progress with his motor skills. This delay in his motor skills  also greatly impacts his ability to play which is the most important part of life for an 18 month old! Lastly, his hypertonia appears to cause him some discomfort.

Bode’s parents initially had a very difficult time accepting Bode’s diagnosis. With time and a lot of support, they have come to cherish Bode for who he is. Bode’s parents have always been very proactive in his care and want to do whatever they can to support his development and make him more comfortable.

I showed Bode’s parents how to perform massage on Bode. His parents took turns with the massage techniques and really enjoyed the connection they had with Bode and with each other. With the stress of Bode’s diagnosis, his parents had recently had a difficult time connecting with one another and the process of massaging their son was a bonding process for them.

Bode absolutely loved the massage!  He would light up when they rubbed their hands together with oil, anticipating the massage. The techniques helped Bode’s muscle tone relax. This made it easier for Bode’s parents to put on his foot orthotics, which in the past had been a process that triggered anxiety.  Reducing Bode’s spastic muscle tone helped him to move easier and with less facilitation. He could manipulate toys more easily and play! Bode’s parents would perform massage prior to stretching Bode which appeared to make Bode more comfortable and less irritable during stretching time.

I have found the massage techniques to be crucial in the care I provide to these children who present with varying disabilities.  The parents have loved the bond they feel with their children and report very positive results from the techniques. I plan to share these massage techniques with every child I work with in the future!