The Benefits of Infant and Pediatric Massage in Healthcare

Expectant mothers planning for the arrival of their newborns may contemplate writing a birth plan, doing research on important decisions regarding breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccines, etc, and more and more women today are also beginning to consider the significant health benefits of incorporating massage therapy to their newborn’s care and life beyond. Thus, midwives, nurses, and other healthcare providers have a unique opportunity to administer and teach massage therapy while caring for infants and mothers during the postnatal period and when providing pediatric care. The ancient practice of massage therapy has been utilized the whole world over, although only recently has it begun to gain increasing attention in the west as new studies have revealed it’s numerous health benefits, perhaps most widely documented in regard to preterm infants.

Infant massage stimulates the development of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Tiffany Field, PHD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine states “When you give your baby a massage, you’re actually stimulating her central nervous system. That sets off a chain reaction: It makes her brain produce more serotonin, a feel-good chemical, and less cortisol, a hormone that’s secreted in response to stress. As a result, your baby’s heart rate and breathing slow down, and she becomes more relaxed.” In preterm infants the Autonomic Nervous System, which is responsible for managing stress responses, is immature. Recently the University of Louisville School of Nursing published a study in Early Human Development showing that massage therapy does in fact improve premature infants’ responses to stressors in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU).

As if that weren’t enough information to encourage healthcare providers to assimilate massage therapy into their practice, there are many other reasons as well! The digestive system, circulatory system, respiratory system, and immune system are all enhanced as a result of massage therapy. Common symptoms of colic, such as prolonged crying and gas, can be reduced or relieved by simple massage techniques. “Affectionate touch and rhythmic movement are among the most powerful forms of communication between babies and their parents, so they’re great ways for you to bond,” says K. Mark Sossin, PhD, director of the Parent-Infant Research Nursery at Pace University, in New York City. Furthermore, premature infants who are at risk for developing infection and respiratory difficulties receive an advantage from massage. Literally all infants can and should benefit from massage!

Beyond infancy, massage has the potential to be a critical therapeutic component in pediatric care for patients with conditions such as Autism, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, and Cerebral Palsy. Autistic characteristics, including aversion to touch, decrease with massage. And in response to therapeutic massage, pediatric cancer patients report less stress, anxiety and depression associated with their disease and subsequent treatments or procedures. Less pain and better ease of breathing is noted by patients with cystic fibrosis receiving massage therapy. Children with Cerebral Palsy gain range of motion and experience less muscle tension after a massage. Hence, it is clear to see the importance of implementing massage therapy in pediatric medical practice and likewise in neonatal care. Therefore, healthcare workers are optimally positioned to assist in supporting this crucial wellness movement.

What to Look For in a Pediatric Therapy Staffing Company

As a speech language pathologist myself, I’m aware of the challenges that come with finding the right pediatric therapy staffing company. When you’re first starting out, there may be a few things you haven’t thought to look for or that you may not even be aware of. Throughout your career, you’ll take mental notes of what you need in an employer and in a pediatric therapy position. After spending 25 years working in and observing this field, I’ve discovered what all speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists – from those just starting out to those well into their careers – should look for – and also what they should avoid.

The Right Fit: The Positives

Working for a pediatric therapy company can offer you a level of protection and a variety of positions to choose from; the company will also be able to evaluate your abilities and place you appropriately. The best therapy staffing companies will be able to offer you the following perks:

  • A competitive total compensation package: Research several pediatric therapy staffing companies to find out what they are like. Ask about their culture to determine if you will be a good fit. Ask about their total compensation package, pay, and benefits. Compare all facets of the pay and benefits to other settings and other positions to determine if it meets your objectives. Consider asking the following questions: What is the pediatric therapy staffing company’s policy on benefits? When do they start? How much is covered? The list could go on and on – just make sure you have an outline prepared for your next interview that covers applicable questions for your particular situation.
  • Job flexibility: If you’re apt to move to or work in different counties or states, you’ll need a pediatric therapy position that gives you a high level of flexibility, giving you the ability to customize the job as you see fit. You have the option to choose your geographical location, making it easier to switch from school to school in different regions around the country. The second part of job flexibility involves being able to customize the amount of time you want to work, as some some speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists are looking for full time work and others may only be able to work on a part time basis. The third part of job flexibility is choosing which sector of the population you want to work with. For example, some want a school therapy job with a traditional caseload, some prefer caseloads with children who have more moderate to severe needs, some prefer elementary age children, and others prefer middle or high school age children. The options are numerous.
  • The ability to change and evolve: Life is always changing and so should your job! Talk with the interviewer at the next pediatric therapy staffing company you go to – he or she should be able to talk candidly about the pediatric therapy company’s ability to adapt and grow with all the changes in a person’s life. A graduate fresh out of college is entirely different from a parent ten years down the road; however, the individuals in both scenarios should desire challenges, learning new techniques, and ultimately, fulfillment.

Reality Check: Potential Red Flags

In a drastic attempt to lure you over and then hire you, some pediatric therapy staffing companies use tactics that are either unethical or severely limiting on your career advancement. Here are some signs you’ll want to watch for in your next interview. You should avoid therapy staffing companies who follow any of the practices below:

  • The therapy staffing company asks you to sign a document giving them the sole right to represent you. In the end, this action will effectively prohibit you from pursuing other employment opportunities.
  • The company encourages you to be categorized as an independent contractor or subcontractor instead of an employee. The company may have a hidden agenda here and may be using this as an excuse to pay less tax to the government. This ploy, covered under the guise of a high hourly pay rate, passes the majority of the tax burden from the therapy staffing company onto you. As a result, you must use that additional pay to cover Social Security and Medicare taxes that the therapy staffing company would have covered had you been classified as an employee. In addition, as an independent contractor, it is questionable whether you are covered under the therapy staffing company’s professional liability, workers compensation, and unemployment insurances.
  • The company attempts to partially compensate you with a tax-free housing allowance when you live and work in the same general area. While such an allowance is normal and legal in travel therapy jobs, tax-free housing allowances for people that live and work in the same general area are typically not allowed by the IRS. This tax-free housing allowance is another ploy by unethical therapy staffing companies to lower their own tax bill, but it is presented as something positive to you. If IRS guidelines are not properly followed and an audit is performed, both you and the company will be held liable for back taxes and potential penalties on the tax-free housing amount.
  • The company advertises that it has Early Intervention work available for school-based therapy jobs during summer months or when school is not in session. Oftentimes, the work is not available in your area and may have already been promised to dozens of other therapists. Many therapy staffing companies may have legitimate opportunities for Early Intervention work during the summer, but it’s important to ask specific questions and not accept generic responses like, “Yes, we do Early Intervention.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Chances are, if you’re interviewing with the right pediatric therapy staffing company, one that will provide you with the perfect fit, the employees will gladly welcome your questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up – it’s the only way you’ll be able to tell if that particular pediatric therapy company can offer what you need in a position. At the end of the day, however, your happiness with a position at a pediatric therapy staffing company all depends on your career goals – if you feel the fit is right, accept the offer and begin experiencing the joy of working with children each and every day!

Tips For Expats Choosing A Pediatrician Or Family Practitioner

Many parents/caregivers have had experiences in the past where they’ve had a rude awakening to the fact that Doctors or Physicians are simply human beings who can make mistakes or sometimes they simply have a bad day. We all have stories we can share about good and bad Physicians.

Fundamentally, as parents we can appreciate how important it is to choose a Physician that we like, can relate to, who listens and importantly we and our children feel comfortable with and trust. Through experience many of us no longer settle for any Physician simply because they wear the hat of a Pediatrician or GP.

In the UK we had a Family Practitioner, the benefits being they could take care of my entire family, so for instance, if myself and my child were ill we could both go to our Physician together. Additionally, they are aware and have access to the entire family’s medical history under one roof, which can be a great time saver and an asset in that because of the family history relationship developed, your Physician tends to be in tune with family issues which could also impact on you or your child’s health. That said, any good Pediatrician should hopefully be able to join the dots and recognize a connection.

Here in America, the benefits of selecting a Pediatrician as opposed to the Family Practitioner are that the Pediatrician has received extensive training focusing on child medicine. The Pediatrician’s 3 year residency is dedicated to child care and according to The American Academy of Pediatrics we can rest assured our children are being treated by an expert in children’s healthcare.

Family Practitioners also complete a three year residency program after medical school but their focus is on taking care of adults and pregnancies of which they may have approximately 6 months Pediatric training. The Family Practitioner has an additional responsibility to ensure they keep abreast of all the latest developments or advances in Pediatric as well as Adult medicine if they are to be an effective Practitioner.

If you elect to choose a Family Practitioner to treat your children then I would recommend you consider the following important points:

o Find a Physician who has regular experience treating a lot of children. A Physician with a couple pediatric patients a day isn’t ideal option, it could be an indication that he lacks experience of treating children.

o Choose a Surgery (Physicians Office) which always has an after hours Physician available that is able to take care of children should your Physician be unavailable.

To find that physician who meets your criteria, you can seek referrals for a good physician from any/all the following sources:

o Family or friends, whose choices are usually based on trust and confidence, but bear in mind that their decision is based strictly on how they relate to the Physician, you would obviously have to explore the recommendation yourself by making your own observations.

o If you’ve recently moved your former physician can give you suggestions, or

o Contact The American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s a professional organization which will provide you with a list of member Physicians in your area. In order for the physician to be accepted as a member of the AAP, pediatricians must meet a certain criteria, including being board certified in pediatrics (which means a physician has completed a prescribed period of residency in the specialty, passed oral and written exams and handled a minimum number of cases). The physician must also provide “evidence of high ethical and professional principals” as evaluated by AAP members in the district where the Physician resides. For the names of AAP members in your community, send SAE and a note indicating the city and state where you are searching, to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Department C-Pediatrician Referral, 141 Northwest Point Blvd., P.O. Box 927, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009-0927

After you made your decision, should you discover the relationship just has not developed positively between your Physician and yourself it’s then time to MOVE ON!

Here is a list of warning signals:

o Your child’s apparent anxiety about going to the Physician is beyond what you consider to be a normal fear of getting a shot.

o Your child is ill and has received a couple different treatments but is still not recovering or getting worse. To be fair some treatments can be stubborn or difficult to diagnose or treat but a lingering illness is a definite warning sign. At this stage ask to see a specialist. Its more advantageous to have a Physician who can admit they do not know what the problem is rather than pretend to have all the answers

o The physician shouldn’t make you feel foolish or irritating when you ask for more information, details, or raise a medical concern for your child. You must feel comfortable to discuss your concerns on any level with your physician.

o The physician does not spend enough time with your child and you feel somehow rushed during your child’s checkup. Do you feel you have enough of an opportunity to ask all your questions and get answers to what you want to know?

o The Physician over-treats your child. Will your Physician order a whole range of tests for a minor cold?

o Physician does not listen, ignores your concerns and observations. If your Physician is not interested in what you have to say about your child’s symptoms, is reluctant to explain details of examinations or test. Maybe its time to reconsider.

o Physician objects to you wanting a second opinion. This is a potentially dangerous situation. Physicians are not infallible they are of course human beings. Secondly do not ask such a Physician for referrals as they will more than likely refer you to someone who is like-minded with similar practices to themselves.

Pediatric: Treatment Meant for Young Children

Pediatric is basically a branch of medicines which is only meant for the children from the birth to the stage of adolescence. Thus pediatric is not meant for the adults. The word “pediatric” is generated from the Greek words “paidi” and “iatros”. Here “paidi,” generally means a boy and “iatros,” refers to a doctor. Thus from this terminology “pediatric” means a doctor which is generally meant for the treatment of a young boy. This branch of medicine is only meant for a specified age group which might start approximately when a baby is born till the completion of the adolescence stage, based on their psychological and physiological concepts.

Pediatricians deal with various problems of the children. For example, there are pediatricians who only deal with the dental health of the children. Moreover there are also pediatric cardiologists who generally deal with the cardiac or the heart conditions of the children. In the same way for dealing with cancer like leukemia in small children, there are pediatric oncologists. Thus it can be estimated in this context that there are pediatricians and pediatric medicines which are solely meant for the children from birth to the stage of adolescence.

In the field of pediatrics, there are also pediatric nurses who are meant for taking care of the infants, the children and the adolescence. It is to be noted out here that the pediatric nurses are generally trained in the field of taking care of young patients and in assisting the doctors in their work. Pediatric generally means taking intensive care and attention of the young patients. As the young patients are generally found to be afraid and scared of certain treatments, pediatricians in different field thus helps in providing self help and confidence in the young patients.

Pediatrics also involves surgical operations. But this form of surgery generally varies from the type of surgery which is meant for the adults. Pediatric surgeons perform the pediatric surgery in the hospitals which are generally meant for the children. The important concept which is worth mentioning in respect of pediatric treatment is that as the young children are not capable of making any decision, thus the decision related to the treatment of the young patients by the pediatricians should get the confirmation of the young patients guardians regarding the type of treatment and surgery meted out to the young patients.