The Mary Bridge Pediatric Integrative Therapies program offers services like therapeutic massage and aromatherapy to cancer and hematology patients at no cost to their families. The program, led by massage therapist Lisa Gainey, helps patients associate good feelings and nurturing touch with their clinical treatment experience. This September, four Bodymechanics students began an externship under Lisa’s guidance. The students will spend the next several months helping to create a peaceful, healing environment to comfort and support the children and their families during their hospital stay and/or clinic appointment.

The benefits of massage therapy for children receiving chemotherapy, radiation, and associated treatments can include relieving anxiety, stress, pain, tension, neuropathy and nausea. Sessions are typically 15-30 minutes and take place in a chair, clinic table or while they are in their hospital bed. Clothing does not need to be removed for the massage and the patient can always decline treatment at any point before or during the session. This gives these young patients some control over a situation where they likely have very little.

Student externs will become proficient in assessment and treatment of pediatric oncology patients, collaborating with hospital staff, and providing education and demonstration to families. They will also provide massage to hospital staff during special occasions such as Pediatric Nursing Week, which was October 2nd through the 6th this year. The students went through an extensive onboarding process while being in school and attending to all of their other responsibilities. Their desire to be of service is evident.

Massage therapy is highly impactful for these patients. Bodymechanics School of Massage is beyond excited to be involved in such an important program and hopes to see it expand to reach all who could benefit.

The pediatric massage program at Mary Bridge was granted a community service grant from the Massage Therapy Foundation in 2023.