By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, June/July 2003.
Psychological and neurological complications in patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation were decreased when given massage therapy, according to research published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine (Jan/Feb 2003). The study included 88 subjects, 27 of whom received massage therapy, 31 Therapeutic Touch (TT) and 30 in the control group who received a friendly visit. The massage and TT sessions were administered by qualified nurse volunteers with at least one year of experience and given every third day for 30 minutes. When necessary, the Swedish massage protocol was adapted to accommodate intravenous sites, wounds and low platelet counts. Results were measured in the three categories below:
Engraftment: No statistical difference was shown for length of engraftment between the three groups. However, researchers noted that while TT had randomly been assigned the most patients in the most toxic treatment plan and fewest in the least toxic, the engraftment days did not reflect a longer time frame, as may be expected.
Complications: Measuring 12 factors including pain and cardiac stability, researchers found no statistical overall difference. However, there was a notable disparity in the central nervous system/neurological category with the TT group showing fewer complications than the control group and the massage group showing fewer than both groups.
Perceived Benefits: Patients’ perception of benefits was significantly higher for those who received massage compared with the control group who received the friendly visit. On a comfort subscale, both the massage and TT groups were significantly higher than the control group.