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Do you believe in the healing abilities of touch?

By December 25, 2008 - 7:38am
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On a day when many of us will be sharing hugs or exchanging handshakes, I'm reminded of the healing powers of touch.

There's an article today in a local newspaper about how babies who are held have a faster path to health.

It quotes a study published in Journal of Pediatric Psychology in 2003 that showed that preterm infants who were held and stroked gained weight faster and slept better.

A 1975 Child Psychiatry and Human Development study found that premature babies who received extra stroking for 10 days were more alert.

There is even a study out of the University of Rochester that is examining how just the right touch among blood cells can mean the difference between good health and chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Do you think touch has healing abilities? Have you experienced an occasion where you felt moved (either positively or negatively) by someone who physically touched you?

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HERWriter Guide

Kristin, that's a great first-person account of your son and healing. And so sad about that other little girl. I wonder if the hospital had volunteers that could hold that baby - many do.

Studies have shown that babies respond very well to touch and that premature babies that are cuddled gain more weight and leave the NICU several days earlier, on average, than babies who are not touched.

Baby massage is also good for any baby. Babies love a cuddle. I 'wore' all my children a lot. And in the first couple of months, I'd take my shirt off when they napped and let then nap on my chest, where they could feel my skin. They were in little baby nirvana! I still carry them and cuddle them all the time and they love it. They are very physically affectionate to us as a result, which is a good thing. They also love a back rub or a back scratch.

Massage therapy is very popular, as is a facial, pedicure or manicure. Most people simply respond positively to touch.

December 26, 2008 - 6:24am
EmpowHER Guest

I believe in the power of touch. I personally experienced it when my nephew was going through kimo therapy and radiation. As he suffered from the side effects I noticed how calm he would become when the nurses, his mom or I would stroke his arm, hand or head. He said a few times that the touch made him feel better - it didn't cure him, but at least he felt some relief from the pain.

Thank you for sharing your story.

December 25, 2008 - 8:08pm

Tina, I read the cover story in the paper today about the premature babies who are held by volunteers in the NICU. I've actually seen proof of the power of touch with my son who was born three months premature and stayed in NICU for his two months until he went from 2 pounds to a "hefty" 5 pounds. Due to his heart and lung issues during his first year of life, he was hooked onto a heart monitor. He would often experience bradycardia (we called them "brady's") which was when he'd basically forget to breathe. The heart monitor alarm would go off whenever this happened. And it always happened more when he was laying untouched in the incubator (or later in his crib at home), as opposed to when he was held in his dad's or my arms. I used to "kangaroo" him as part of his therapy, which meant he would lay naked, his chest against my bare chest, for a period of time. Whenever we kangarooed, he never ever had a brady. It was almost miraculous.

On the other end of the spectrum, during those two months in NICU, I saw a couple of babies that did not have family members visit them regularly. In fact one baby, who was born to a cocaine-addicted mother, never had a visitor. She did not do well and suffered from several infections and other ailments during her time in NICU. And she had a hard time gaining weight. When we were there, this baby girl had already been there for six months. And, because she wasn't as "loved" as some of the other babies in the unit, and didn't have an advocate, it was apparent that she didn't receive the kind of care and attention from the medical staff that she otherwise might have. I don't know what happened to her, but I always think about how sad it was that she didn't have a mother to hold her during her first several months of life. It seemed so apparent that it was the reason she didn't seem to thrive like the other babies.

So I'm a total believer in the healing abilities, both physical and emotional, of touch.

December 25, 2008 - 4:39pm
EmpowHER Guest

I certainly believe that this may be true. I remember hearing a story of a little girl that was thrown out of the house by her parents and the family dogs raised her. As she grew older, she began barking like the dogs and she was really never the same even when she was removed from the house and was placed in protective custody of the State.

Developmental psychology indicates that as children there are certain stages of development that are necessary to grow up to be well rounded individuals and touch certainly is one of them. Caring and nurture are essential in the development of children. A hug always certainly makes people feel better. It is a powerful tool. It is apart of social engineering.

So give someone a hug today and experience the healing powers of touch.

December 25, 2008 - 10:26am
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