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Impact of Massage Therapy on Well-Being for Parents of Children Recovering from Traumatic Injury or Illness

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Natalie Williams

Co-Principal Investigators: Judy Burnfield, Paul Springer

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Massage Therapy Foundation

Award Date: Oct 1, 2015

End Date: Nov 30, 2017


High levels of parental distress are common during inpatient pediatric rehabilitation, and if not addressed, adversely impact family functioning and children’s therapy progress. This study evaluates therapeutic massage as a tool to improve the well-being of parents in the inpatient pediatric rehabilitation environment by reducing parent stress, decreasing anxiety, and improving sleep. 

The research is the first empirical investigation of the benefits of massage for caregivers in the pediatric rehabilitation context. It aims to: 

  1. Determine the impact of dosage of massage therapy on parents’ psychological well-being.
  2. Determine the impact of therapeutic massage on parents' stress reactivity. 
  3. Determine the treatment acceptability of the massage intervention. 
The study’s sample includes parents of 40 children receiving inpatient rehabilitation for severe injury or illness at Alexis Verzal Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. It will use a two-group, pre-post, quasi-experimental design.

Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning

From left, Paul Springer, Judy Burnfield and Natalie Williams at the Alexis Verzal Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, where they research the impact of massage therapy for parents whose children are in rehabilitation.
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