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TOUCH RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Aggressive Adolescents:
Following a month of 2 chair massages per week the
adolescents became less aggressive.
Touch in Adolescents: Touching peers during conversations in McDonalds Restaurants
occurred more frequently in Paris than in Miami. In contrast, self-touching and aggressive behavior occurred more frequently among adolescent peers in Miami than in Paris.
Anorexia: Massage therapy reduced anxiety, depressed mood, and salivary cortisol
(stress hormone) levels and resulted in decreased body dissatisfaction associated with
anorexia.
Aromatherapy: Adults exposed to rosemary showed decreased frontal alpha and beta
power, suggesting increased alertness. They also had lower anxiety levels and
performed math computations faster. Adults exposed to lavender showed increased beta power, suggesting increased relaxation. They performed math computations not only faster but also with fewer errors and had less depressed mood.
Arthritis: Studies children with mild to moderate juvenile rheumatoid arthritis who were
massage by their parents 15 minutes a day for 30 days (and a control group engaged in
relaxation therapy). The children's anxiety and stess hormone (cortisol) levels were
immediately decreased by the massage, and over the 30-day period their pain decreased
on self-reports, parent reports, and their physician's assessment of pain (both the
incidence and severity) and pain-limiting activities.
Asthma: This study showed positive effects of parents massaging their asthmatic children including increased peak air flow, improved pulmonary functions, less anxiety and reduced stress hormone (cortisol) in the children. Parental anxiety also decreased.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Adolescents with ADHD displayed less anxiety, daydreaming behaviors, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity and their conduct improved after participating in Tai Chi classes.
Adolescents with ADHD rated themselves as happier and were observed to fidget less after massage sessions. Also, teachers rated children receiving massage as less hyperactive and as spending more time on-task.
Children with ADHD showed more on-task behavior in the classroom and were rated as less hyperactive by their teachers following one month of twice weekly massages.
Autistic Children: Touch sensitivity, attention to sounds and off-task classroom behavior decreased and relatedness to teachers increased after massage therapy.
Children in the massage group exhibited less stereotypic behavior and showed more on-task and social relatedness behavior during play observations at school, and they experienced fewer sleep problems at home.
Back Pain: Massage lessened lower back pain, depression and anxiety, and improved sleep. The massage therapy group also showed improved range of motion and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.
Behavior Problem Children: Preschool children with behavior problems who received massage are showed more on-task behavior, less solitary play, and less aggression.
Bottle Feeding on Breast-Like Nipples: Infants showed fewer stress behaviors and had greater vagal activity and more organized feeding patterns during bottle feedings using nipples that are similar to breast nipples.
Breast Cancer: Massage therapy reduced anxiety and depression and improved immune function including increased natural killer cell number.
Bulimia: Bulimic adolescent girls received massage therapy 2 times a week for 5 weeks. Effects included an improved body image, decreased depression and anxiety symptoms, decreased cortisol levels and increased dopamine and serotonin levels.
Burn in Adults: Massage therapy sessions given prior to debridement (skin brushing) decreased depression and anger, and the subjects appeared less anxious during behavior observations and reported less pain. Lower pulse and cortisol suggested lower stress levels.
Burn in Children: Massage therapy given prior to dressing young children's (mean age = 2.5 years old) severe body burns decreased distress behaviors. Nurses also reported greater ease in completing the dressing change procedure for the children in the massage group. The massage was conducted to body parts that were not affected.
Postburn Symptoms: Massage therapy given to burn patients reportedly reduced itching, pain, and anxiety and improved mood immediately after the first and last therapy sessions, and their ratings on these measures improved from the first day to the last day of the study.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A daily self-massage for stretching tendons alleviated pain following one month.
Carrying Position: Infants were carried by their mothers in soft infant carriers in facing inward and facing outward positions. In the facing inward position they slept more and in the facing outward position they were more active and interactive.
Cerebral Palsy: Massage therapy helped children with CP reduce spasticity, gain more muscle flexibility, and motor function and have more positive social interaction.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Immediately following massage therapy depressed mood, anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels were reduced. Following 10 days of massage therapy, fatigue related symptoms, particularly anxiety and somatic symptoms, were reduced, as were depression, difficulty sleeping and pain. Stress hormone(cortisol) also decreased and dopamine increased.
Cocaine Exposed Newborns: Massaged newborns had fewer postnatal complications and showed increased weight gain, and better performance on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale (particularly on the motor scale), and less stress behaviors following 10 days of massage.
Cystic Fibrosis: Children receiving daily bedtime massages from their parents reported being less anxious, and their mood and peak air flow readings improved.
Dancers: Massage therapy improved range of motion, mood, and performance (including balance and posture) and decreased stress hormone (cortisol) after one month of twice weekly massage therapy.
Depressed Mothers' EEG Patterns are Changed by Massage and Music Therapy: Brief sessions of massage therapy and music therapy were noted to shift the EEG of depressed mothers from greater relative right frontal activation (a pattern associated with depression) to symmetry.
Depressed Mothers' Infants Prefer Touch: Infants showed more eye contact when
adults, who were smiling and cooing, also touched them as compared to infants who
received smiling and cooing without touch.
Depressed Mothers' Touching Increases Infants' Positive Affect and Attention: Depressed mothers increased their infant's positive affect and attentiveness by providing touch stimulation.
Depressed Mothers Touching Infants: Mothers with depressive symptoms who were more likely to touch their infants in a negative way were more likely to be classified as intrusive.
Depressed Mothers Touching Newborns: Mothers with depressed symptoms were compared to mothers with non-depressed symptoms one day after delivery on how they touched their newborns following an initial feeding. Depressed mothers touched their newborns less frequently.
Depressed Pregnant Mothers: This study is assessing the effects of massage therapy on depressed pregnant women expecting to find decreased depression, stress hormones, and obstetric complications including lower prematurity rates.
Depressed Teenage Mothers: Teenage mothers who received massage therapy versus those who received relaxation therapy were less depressed and less anxious both by their own report and based on behavior observations. In addition, their urinary cortisol levels were lower and their serotonin levels were higher, indicating they were less stressed and less depressed.
Dermatitis in Children: Children's affect and activity levels improved as did all measures of skin condition including less redness, lichenification, excoriation, and pruritis after massage therapy. Parents' anxiety levels also decreased.
Diabetes: Following one month of parents massaging their children with diabetes, the children's glucose levels decreased to the normal range and their increased dietary compliance increased. Also the parents' and children's anxiety and depression levels decreased.
Down Syndrome: Infants with Down syndrome improved in muscle tone and in performance on motor tasks following massage therapy.
Early Stimulation: Research is reviewed on the critical nature of rubbing the rat pup and the preterm newborn for their growth and development.
Elderly Retired Volunteers Providing Versus Receiving Massage: Elderly retired volunteers were assessed after giving infants massage for a month versus receiving massage for a month themselves. Results were: 1) they reported less anxiety and fewer depressive symptoms and an improved mood after giving infants massage; 2) their pulse decreased; 3) their cortisol levels decreased; and 4) they reported improved self esteem and a better lifestyle (e.g. fewer doctor visits and more social contacts) after the one month period. These effects were stronger for giving infants the massages than receiving massages themselves, suggesting that the massager can benefit from simply giving massages.
Father-Infant Massage: Fathers gave their infants daily massages 15 minutes prior to bedtime for one month. The fathers in the massage group showed more optimal interaction behavior with their infants.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome: Massage therapy (as compared to transcutaneous electrical stimulation) improved sleep patterns and decreased pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression and cortisol levels.
Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia patients slept better (showed lower activity levels suggesting more deep sleep), and had lower substance P levels and less pain following a month of biweekly massages.
Food Texture: Infants preferred pureed textures while toddlers and preschoolers preferred chunky textures. However, when infants were given experience with more complex textures, they too preferred the chunky textures.
HIV Exposed Newborns: Increased weight gain and improved performance on the Brazelton Newborn Scale (motor and state scales) were experienced by the massaged newborns.
HIV in Adolescents: Natural killer cells, CD4 cells and CD4/CD8 ratio increased after one month of massage therapy.
HIV Positive Adults: This study examined massage therapy effects on anxiety and depression levels and on immune function. The subjects received a 45-minute massage five times weekly for a 1-month period. The findings were that: 1) anxiety, stress and cortisol levels were significantly reduced; and 2) natural killer cells and natural killer cell activity increased, suggesting positive effects on the immune system.
Hospital Job Stress: Hospital nursing and physician staff members were provided massage therapy, relaxation therapy and music therapy. These therapies significantly reduced anxiety, depression and fatigue as well as increased vigor.
Hypertension: Massage therapy decreased diastolic blood pressure, anxiety and cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Infants of Depressed Mothers: Infants who received massage therapy versus those who were rocked experienced 1) greater daily weight gain; 2) more organized sleep/wake behaviors; 3) less fussiness; 4) improved sociability and soothability, 5) improved interaction behaviors; and 6) lower cortisol and norepinephrine and increased serotonin levels (suggesting less depression).
Infants of intrusive mothers with depresive symptoms showed more differential responding to the facial expressions than the infants of wiethdrawn mothers.
Job Performance/Stress: Massaged subjects showed 1) decreased frontal EEG alpha and beta waves and increased delta activity consistent with enhanced alertness; 2) math problems were completed in significantly less time with significantly fewer errors after the massage; and 3) anxiety, cortisol (stress hormone) and job stress levels were lower at the end of the 5 week period.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: Positive effects of parents massaging their arthritic children included less pain (particularly at night) and less morning stiffness as assessed by the Parent, Child and Physician's Assessment as well as lower anxiety and cortisol levels.
Labor Pain: Massage therapy during labor decreased anxiety and pain. In addition, the massaged mothers had shorter labor, shorter hospital stay and less depressed mood.
Learning by Infants: Massaging the lower limbs for a few minutes enhanced habituation (or simple learning) by infants.
Learning in Preschoolers: Preschoolers who received a 15-minute massage showed better performance on the block design and greater accuracy on the animal pegs subsets of the WPPSI.
Leukemia: Twenty children with leukemia were provided with daily massages by their parents and were compared to a standard treatment control group. Following a month of massage therapy, depressed mood decreased in the children's parents, and the children's white blood cell and neutrophil counts increased.
Migraine Headaches: Massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms and increased serotonin levels.
Multiple Sclerosis: Massage therapy decreased anxiety and depressed mood, and improved self-esteem, body image and social functioning.
Newborns: Women who had extended and early contact with their newborns looked at, talked to, and touched their infants more, watched less television, and talked less on the telephone than mothers with minimal contact with their infants. These findings suggest that increased postpartum contact with infants leads not only to more interaction, but also to more touching as well as touching in more intimate places (face and head),thus highlighting the value of rooming-in arrangements for mothers and infants.
Alleviating Stress in Newborns: Stressful effects of intensive care nursery environments are reviewed including the effects of high-intensity noise, bright lights, cold, invasive and painful procedures. Touch interventions were associated with 1) fewer startle responses, 2) decreased need for ventilation, and 3) fewer clenched fists. The stimulated infants averaged greater weight gain, were awake and active for a greater period of time and scored better on the Brazelton Scale.
Oil Versus No Oil Massage: Infants showed fewer stress behaviors (e.g. grimacing and clenched fists) and lower cortisol levels (stress hormones) following massage with oil versus massage without oil.
Parkinson's Disease: Adults with Parkinson's Disease were assigned to receive massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation twice a week for five weeks. The massaged group received higher physician scores on daily living activities and the participants rated themselves as improved in daily functioning, having more effective and less disturbed sleep.
Post burn: Ten massage therapy sessions led to lower anxiety, anger, depression, pain and itching in adults with scars from burns.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Massage therapy decreased the anxiety, depression and stress hormone levels (cortisol) of children who survived Hurricane Andrew. In addition, their drawings became less depressed.
Pregnancy: This study showed decreased anxiety and stress hormones (norepinephrine) during pregnancy and fewer obstetric and postnatal complications including lower prematurity rates following pregnancy massage.
Fetal activity during midgestation was studied in response to vibratory stimulation of the mother's abdomen (at the height of the fetal head), foot massage, hand massage, or control condition. The fetuses of mothers who received a 3-minute foot massage showed greater movement than the control fetuses.
Premenstrual Symptoms: Mood improved and anxiety, pain and water retention symptoms decreased after massage therapy.
Touch in Preschools: Teachers touching children was rarely observed in infant, toddler and preschool nurseries. These data were then presented to the teachers along with examples of appropriate touch, and they were requested to provide more touching in the classroom. The amount of touching subsequently increased.
Touch in Preschoolers: Preschoolers demonstrated less "task" related touch but more "communication" related touch in their classroom as compared to the infants and toddlers in their classrooms. Affectionate touch and aggressive touch was more prevalent among toddlers than other age children.
Touch in Preschool Children in U.S. and France: Studies compared a high touch culture (France) and a low touch culture (U.S.) on preschool playgrounds and at McDonald's Restaurants in Paris and Miami. Data analyses suggest that preschool children in Paris are touched more by their mothers and touch each other more and are less aggressive toward their peers.
Preterm Infant Massage in Five Days: Preterm infants gained more weight following as few as 5 days of massage therapy.
Preterm Neonates' Responses to massage and Heelsticks: Routine heelstick procedures and tactile-kinesthetic massage were performed on stabilized preterm neonates to examine the differential effects on Transcutaneous Oxygen Tension (TcPO2). TcPO2 levels during the heelstick were significantly lower than during the massage stimulation. The findings indicate that social forms of touch such as massage do not appear to have a medically compromising effect on TcPO2.
Preterm Newborns Gain More Weight: Preterm infants gained 47% more weight, became more socially responsive, and were discharged 6 days earlier at a hospital cost savings of $10,000 per infant (or 4.7 billion dollars if the 470,000 preemies born each year were massaged). The underlying biological mechanism for weight gain in the massaged preterm newborns may be an increase in vagal tone and, in turn, an increase in insulin (food absorption hormone).
Preterm Newborns Sleep Better: Preterm infants who were massaged before sleep fell asleep more quickly and slept more soundly with better sleep patterns. They showed improved weight gain as compared to infants who were not massaged before sleep.
Preterm Newborns Have a Better Clinical Course: Preterm Infants received tactile/kinesthetic stimulation over a 10-day period. The infants averaged 21% greater weight gain per day and spent more time awake and active during sleep/wake behavior observations.
Preterm Infants Who Benefit the Most from Massage: Preterm infants received three daily 15-minute massages for 10 days. The massage therapy infants gained significantly more weight per day than did the control infants. For the massage therapy group, the pattern of greater caloric intake and more days in Intermediate care before the study period along with more obstetric complications differentiated the high from the low weight gainers, suggesting that the infants who had experienced more complicationsbefore the study benefited more from the massage therapy.
Preterm Infants Develop Better: Preterm infants who received massage therapy as newborns showed greater weight gain and more optimal cognitive and motor development eight months later.
Preterm Infants' Weight Influences Massage Therapy Benefits: In a review of preterm infant massage studies, massage therapy was found to facilitate weight gain only when the intervention was started when the preterm infant weighed between 1100 and 1300 g.
Psychiatric Patients (Child and Adolescent): Following five 30-minute massages these children/ adolescents had better sleep patterns, lower depression and anxiety and lower stress hormone levels (cortisol and norepinephrine).
Rat Pups: Maternally deprived rat pups showed increased growth hormone following simulated rubbing.
Sexual Abuse: Massage therapy reduced aversion to touch and decreased anxiety, depression and cortisol levels, in women who had been sexually or physically abused.
Sleep by Preschoolers: Preschool children who received massage fell asleep sooner, and slept longer during nap time, had decreased activity levels and better behavior ratings.
Sleep Disturbances in Infants: Infants who received massage therapy before bedtime by a parent experienced less difficulty falling asleep and better sleep patterns.
Smoking: Cravings, anxious behaviors and the number of cigarettes smoked were reduced by self-massage (rubbing ear lobes or hands whenever subjects experienced a craving).
Spinal Cord Injuries: Massage therapy improved functional abilities, range of motion and muscle strength in spinal cord injury patients.
Stimulation in Preterm Infants: Preterm infants who received tactile stimulation showed greater weight gain. A potential underlying mechanism for the massage/weight gain relationship is an increase in vagal tone, which in turn increases food absorption.

PERCEPTION STUDIES:
  • Face Discrimination: Infants of depressed mothers took longer to habituate their mothers' face/voice and afterwards displayed no visual preference for mother or stranger, compared to infants of non-depressed mothers who showed a novelty preference for stranger.
  • Odor Perception: Infants of depressed mothers exposed to rosemary or lavender oil showed a shift in EEG toward greater relative left frontal asymmetry. This shift is associated with an approaching pattern of behavior and response to positive stimuli.
  • Oral Temperature Exploration: Newborns of depressed mothers sucked longer to cold and warm bottle-nipples and showed no preference for one over the other.
  • Oral Texture Perception in Newborns: Newborns of depressed mothers spent half as much time orally exploring a nubby and smooth texture orally, suggesting that they may have biological differences affecting their emotional arousal and regulation.
  • Temperature Perception by Hand: Infants of depressed and non-depressed mothers were habituated to a cold or warm temperature tube by hand. Infants of depressed mothers 1) required twice as long to habituate, 2) showed a sensitization effect, indexed
    as an increase in holding from the second to the third trial of habituation and 3) showed passive hand activity while holding the object in their hand.
  • Temperature Perception in Newborns: Newborns of depressed mothers required more time to habituate and showed passive exploratory behavior while exploring cold versus warm temperature tubes held in their hands.
  • Weight Perception: Newborns of depressed mothers showed passive manipulation of objects and did not detect a change in the object's weight during test trials.

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