massage in postoperative care in children after heart surgery

Massage Improves Children’s Surgical Postoperative Recovery

Massage and Postoperative Recovery

massage in postoperative care in children after heart surgeryMassage can have an important role in postoperative recovery patients and has been incorporated in rehabilitation programs to improve their recovery. A review published in 2016 showed that massage therapy in the postoperative period decreased pain and lowered anxiety in patients that had undergone cardiac surgery.

Study

A pilot study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital evaluated the safety and feasibility of instituting massage therapy in the immediate postoperative period after congenital heart surgery. Sixty pediatric heart surgery patients between ages 6 and 18 years at an academic children’s hospital were recruited. They were randomized to receive either massage therapy during the postoperative period or a standard of care plus three reading visits. The study examined the effects of massage therapy versus standard of care plus reading visits on postoperative pain and anxiety. It also looked at the amount of opioid and benzodiazepine medicines taken by postoperative patients receiving massage therapy versus patients receiving standard of care plus reading visits.

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Results

The study found:

  • There were no adverse events related to massage or reading interventions in either group.
  • Further, there was no statistically significant difference in Pain or State-Trait Anxiety scores in the initial 24 hours after heart surgery and within 48 hours of transfer to the acute care unit.
  • However, children receiving massage therapy had significantly lower State-Trait Anxiety scores at the time of discharge than the group receiving standard of care plus the reading visits.
  • There was no difference in total opioid exposure during the first three postoperative days between groups.
  • However, children receiving massage therapy had significantly lower total benzodiazepine exposure in the immediate three days following heart surgery, and number of benzodiazepine PRN (taken as needed) doses.

Conclusion

The authors concluded that the pilot study demonstrated the safety and feasibility of implementing massage therapy in the immediate postoperative period in pediatric heart surgery patients. Massage therapy decreased State-Trait Anxiety scores at discharge and lowered total exposure to benzodiazepines. The authors suggested that improving postoperative care through nonpharmacologic interventions warrants further evaluation.

Comment by Joseph Muscolino

There is already a growing body of research that shows the beneficial effects that massage therapy can have on clients/patients with orthopedic (musculoskeletal / neuro-myo-fascio-skeletal) conditions. It is therefore very gratifying to see that research is starting to mount that also shows the beneficial effects that massage therapy can have in other (visceral) conditions, such as postoperative heart surgery recovery. Manual therapy is an incredibly powerful tool, and it is gratifying to see that Western Medicine is beginning to recognize and appreciate this.

This blog post article was created in collaboration with www.terrarosa.com.au.

(Click here for the blog post article: Stretching Reduces Cancer Tumor Growth in a Study with Mice.)

Did you know that Digital COMT (Digital Clinical Orthopedic Manual Therapy), Dr. Joe Muscolino’s video streaming subscription service for manual and movement therapists, has an entire folder on massage therapy and an entire folder on Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM)? Digital COMT adds seven new video lessons each and every week. And nothing ever goes away! Click here for more information.

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