Massage Therapy News and Research

Mayo Clinic studies the value of treating pain in an integrative way.

Mayo Clinic recently published a review of several case studies. Mayo Clinic researchers examined the potential role of integrative medicine as a therapeutic and diagnostic benefit when combined with a patient’s treatment plan, writes Pain Management on its blog.  The lead author of the study, Brent Bauer, M.D., director of research for Mayo Clinic’s Integrative Medicine Program, said that the medical organization conducted over two dozen studies on massage and acupuncture that showed the benefits both treatments have on patients.

Bob Twillman, Ph.D., FAPM, Executive Director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, is quoted in the article discussing the Mayo Clinic studies as a positive sign that American healthcare thought leaders now are making greater use of complementary and integrative treatments, especially for pain management. Twillman sees expanding the use of integrative medicine will improve pain, function, and the quality of a patient’s life.  Read more.

Craving human connections lead some to pay for cuddles.

A recent article in The Hamilton Spectator discusses the new trend of people paying for cuddles to alleviate anxiety and stress and deal with need and loss. Shops, such as Cuddle Me in Portland, Ore., run by Samantha Hess, offer trained cuddlers who hold, stroke, and embrace customers in a non-sexual way. Two-year-old website has trained around 400 professional cuddlers and connects clients to providers nationwide.

The U.S. is among the world’s most touch-averse cultures, yet studies point to touch benefits. Experiments conducted in the 1950s found that infant monkeys preferred more cuddly terry cloth "mothers" over wire mesh ones. In the 1980s, the world learned about Romanian orphanages that had touch-deprived children with severe emotional problems.

According to the article, studies show massage therapy to be associated with increased attentiveness, decreased depression, and immune system boosts. Other research has found touch positively influences people’s social behaviors and relationships. Read more.


The link between brain growth and post-natal sensory experiences

Research conducted at the University of Toronto sheds light on links between early brain growth and sensations experienced by animals soon after birth, according to an article on News-Medical.Net.

The findings suggest mobility restrictions or insufficient sensory stimuli impact new brain cells' production, which is known as neurogenesis and brain growth. As a result, learning and cognition may be negatively affected.

Sensory experiences of newborns are critical for their developing brains because they help with the maturation of existing neural circuits. However, up to now, it wasn’t clear whether these sensory experiences also impact early neurogenesis. The U of T studies suggest that “measures to stimulate increased physical movement in young children could be used to combat abnormal neurogenesis during early brain growth,” says Zachary Hall, lead author of the studies examining sensory experience-dependent brain growth.

The article says that study findings could explain several important links. Doctors in neonatal intensive care units often use massage therapy for babies born prematurely or with illnesses. Massage therapy seems to be helpful for reasons that were not fully understood. The researchers suggest sensory feedback might be stimulating neurogenesis that, in turn, facilitates brain growth. Read more.

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