Abstract ID: 3520

Primary Topic: Clinical skills-building
Secondary Topic: State of the science/evidence base for integrative modalities

Pediatric Massage: A Non-Pharmacologic Intervention for Children with Pain, Stress, and Chronic Conditions
Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Vancouver, WA, United States; Winona Chua, MD; Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS, , Philadelphia, PA, United States

Late Breaker: No


Massage therapy has been found to be beneficial in many clinical conditions. This is particularly true in children who have an essential need for tactile stimulation to further their growth and development.  Touch stimulates the brain, including the limbic cortex, which is the area of the brain where emotions are generated.  Massage therapy has been shown to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels.  Receiving professional touch therapy can aid in healthy development, and can be a vital source of healing.  Those who receive massage therapy may experience benefits including decrease in anxiety, improvement in pulmonary function, reduction of pain, and fostering an overall sense of well-being.  Given the concern for opioid overuse, pediatric massage therapy may be an important complementary approach for the non-pharmacologic management of chronic pain. 

During this session, participants will learn about the benefits of pediatric massage through a review of available research, as well as the indications for pediatric massage therapy. There will be a demonstration and hands-on practice of simple pediatric massage protocols, including those which aid in decreasing anxiety, stress, and pain, and those that can be used to manage some common pediatric conditions like constipation.  Participants will learn developmentally-appropriate adaptations of common pediatric massage techniques, and will take away applications that will add to a health care provider’s professional practice and integrative tool kit. 


Pediatric Massage Therapy is a simple, non-invasive, low-tech, and highly effective clinical intervention. Available evidence for its effectiveness is increasing. Since it is portable and can be easily taught to health care providers and parents, it is an important and useful skill for integrative health care providers to have. 


  • Know the indications and importance of pediatric massage therapy
  • Be aware of the evidence that supports the use of massage therapy in pain and chronic conditions, including developmentally-appropriate adaptations
  • Demonstrate a series of massage strokes that may be especially beneficial to pediatric patients

Methods/Session Format

20 minutes Lecture and Discussion: background, research/evidence in support of pediatric massage therapy

15 minutes Demonstration of Pediatric Massage Techniques and Protocols

45 minutes Hands-On Practice of Pediatric Massage Techniques and Protocols

10 minutes Review and Question and Answer


  • Background and literature review to support the use of pediatric massage
  • Hospital and ambulatory-based strategies for pediatric massage, including examples of current usage in pediatric health care
  • Simple hands-on protocols that are demonstrated and practiced during the workshop.

Materials to be Distributed

Printed handout provided for each attendee will include:  Literature review  and references to support use of pediatric massage therapy; Descriptions of various approaches for pediatric patients including illustrations, and instructions for providing hands-on massage therapy.