Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2018

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A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 49 provided the up to 20-minute reading interventions but were not allowed to discuss any massage- related items. Patients or parents selected which of three preselected Dr. Seuss books to read at each session. Readers also followed a procedural protocol that consisted of introductions, preparation, book selection, reading, and showing the pictures while sitting as close as practically possible to the patient, and answering story- or book-related questions. The study's feasibility items of measure were safety and adverse events, as well as the extent to which study protocol was followed by participants and massage therapists. Patient outcomes measured in the study were pain, anxiety, and drug exposure. Several interesting feasibility findings are reported in the article. All participants randomized to the massage arm of the study completed their participation; however, 22 percent of those randomized to the reading arm declined further participation. This contributed to the uneven numbers of participants in each of the study arms (n=36 in the massage arm and n=24 in the reading arm). Therapist treatment documentation indicated Swedish massage was the most-used technique, followed by craniosacral therapy, myofascial release, and energy therapies. The extremities were the areas addressed most often (feet, legs, head, face, etc.) by the therapists and half of the sessions included the chest being touched as an intentional part of treatment. No treatment-related adverse events occurred during the study, and the massage therapy intervention was well tolerated by study participants. Within the discussion section of the paper, several logistical and methodological challenges were presented, including intervention interruptions, scheduling pressures, and an inability to standardize medication dosing across participants. These discussions and considerations will inform this group's future research in addition to others who wish to replicate the studied program or research in similar or other populations. Pain- and anxiety- related outcomes indicated that those in the massage group had less pain and anxiety scores by the third measurement point (within 48 hours of discharge) than those in the reading group. While no statistical differences existed between the groups regarding opioid exposure during the first three days postsurgery, benzodiazepine exposure was less for the massage therapy group than for the reading group in the immediate three days after heart surgery. These outcomes provide preliminary evidence that multiple massage therapy sessions applied in conjunction with usual care for children following cardiac surgery provide benefit beyond that of extra caring attention. While these preliminary findings are promising and exciting, care should be taken when considering and applying them to broader populations due to inherent study limitations acknowledged in the article. Of particular note, the sample size was relatively small overall and group sizes were disproportionate. The statistical methods employed by the researchers on the reported data seem appropriate, but a larger sample would allow more robust statistical testing to be used to better detect potentially subtle but meaningful effects in a relatively short timeframe. The authors also discussed limitations such as control protocol using reading material that may not have sufficiently engaged older participants and prior positive or negative impression of massage therapy (aspects not measured and therefore not considered in analysis). It is for these and other reasons this study's results are considered preliminary, but every house needs a foundation, and

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