Monday, March 16, 2009

Thoughts on Massage

I have been thinking about massage recently.  I think massage is a lovely thing personally.  I don't get massages for myself as often as I would like but I love the idea of them.  

My family is from India and the vast majority of babies there are massaged on a daily basis.  The new moms are massaged as well.  Massage is not a practice reserved for the those with more money as it tends to be in America.  The art of massage is passed down in families. Everyone learns to do it.  In addition, there are women called ayahs skilled in childcare who also perform baby and post-partum massage.  It is a lovely way to start and end a day especially if you are new mother or a newborn just learning to navigate this big, bright world!

I took a more scientific look at massage when I was preparing my lecture demonstration to a group at the Franklin County MRDD preschool.  The power point presentation is on the resource page of the website if you are interested.

The sense of touch occupies such a large percentage of the primary sensory cortex that touch is really vital for survival.  It is evident that babies and children who are not nurtured with touch in their formative years can have struggles with relating to the world around them in many ways.  

One of the most well established findings from massage research is that parent and child bonding is enhanced with baby massage.  In addition, there is the side benefit of reducing post-partum depressive symptoms in many mothers.  Studies suggest that babies who are massaged tend to cry less, are less irritable, sleep better and have more organized behaviors.  

As children get older, studies show that preschool children who are massaged or are lovingly touched by their parents tend to be less aggressive and may have improved cognitive abilities. For those children who are struggling with anxiety and depression, touch can be a very important piece of the therapeutic plan.  These kids experienced overall improvements in their anxiety and depression scores when massaged regardless of what other therapies were in use.  

It is not clear in all the studies that massage has such direct benefits, but the preliminary findings are intriguing.  Massage research is in its infancy in terms of hard and fast findings on the benefits of massage, but I believe that the continued research will bear out what I already know.

While I am an advocate of scientific evidence, I don't need to look past my own home for evidence.  I lay next to my daughter who was ill last week giving her a back rub that she asked for as she fought off a fever and a cold.   I could feel her body relax as I gently kneaded her back and legs.  Her body quieted and she fell asleep.  

Massage is a healing practice that empowers parents and kids alike.  I love that!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Grand Event!

The open house/grand opening this past weekend (2/28/09) at WholeKids Pediatrics & Yoga was a smashing success!  If you were not able to come, please give the office a call and set up a time to come in.  I welcome that.  I am thankful to all of the families that came to see the yoga studio and office.  Thank you for bringing your children - they were all so sweet and I hope to see them again soon!  I know that it got busy at times and I appreciate everyone's patience as they waited to speak with me.  

The open house was a good event for me as an integrative pediatrician.  The turnout exceeded my expectations.  I had many discussions about how I use complementary practices such as yoga, natural medicines and supplements.  Several recent studies show that approximately 40% of Americans utilize complementary therapies and that parents use them for their children as well.  These studies along with the discussions that I had with many of you illustrated the growing need for integrative and holistic care.  Pediatricians must be educated about alternative practices to better serve the children in their care. There were lots of discussions about vaccinations which continues to illustrate to me that an honest dialogue on this subject is necessary.  Vaccines are an issue that is very personal for each family and that is exactly how I treat it. My adage is that whether it is a discussion related to decisions about vaccines or vitamins, one size does not fit all.

All the conversations solidified for me what I knew at a gut level - that families are looking for a pediatric practice that is based on a true partnership with parents and children.  The questions that people asked informed me even further that families are looking for a pediatrician to listen, to guide and to create a safe space for the questions that arise in raising children.  At WholeKids Pediatrics, that is exactly what I hope to have created.

I must take a moment to provide thanks.  I am glad to have the opportunity to practice medicine in a way that feels to true to myself.  I thank my current families and those yet to be patients for the opportunity to care for your children.

As to the open house, the delicious food was from Gordon's Gourmet located next door - Ted, Gordon and Jason are the best!  Kelly and Kathy, I am so glad to work with you every day.  You have embraced WholeKids and for that I am grateful.  Lori, you are a gifted yoga teacher and I am honored to work with you in providing yoga and nutrition counseling for our patients. My family and friends for always being there.  Anne and Jessica, fellow Grandview moms and great friends, my humble gratitude.  Shannon, my dear friend, your assistance, support and love (and Michael's, too) are more appreciated than words can ever say. My girls, Meghana, Lauren and Jesse, for loving me and loving WholeKids. To my husband, John without whom none of this is possible - my love always.