Mary Thies, BA, LMT, CIMT, CPMT, Reiki Master

February/March 2012

I traveled to Tashkent, Uzbekistan for 3 weeks of training and practical application of pediatric massage therapy techniques from the US, opening a dialogue between Uzbekistan and US pediatric massage practitioners.

I worked with Orphanage #1 and the Children’s Hospital for Cerebral Palsy.  At Orphanage #1, I trained about 50 caregivers and massage therapy specialists.  At the hospital, I trained about 50 medical staff, massage therapists, physical therapists, speech/language pathologists, and nurses.

At the Orphanage I taught basic massage techniques, pediatric massage safety, and massage techniques for the specific conditions/disabilities that frequently occur in the pediatric population at the Orphanage, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and paralysis.  This was accomplished through weeks of lectures, presentations, and application of hands-on techniques for the providers.  As a result of the trainings, the caregivers and massage therapists reported  feeling more confident and prepared to deliver massage therapy to the children, both for comfort care and therapeutic applications.

At the hospital I taught with an emphasis on cerebral palsy and post-surgical massage applications.  Over the weeks, I toured many of the specialty wings of the hospital and demonstrated practical applications of therapeutic massage in the birth-5 outpatient clinic, post-surgical ward, gross-motor development department, and the 3-6 year old physical therapy and rehabilitation area.

I was also able to dialogue with the Chief Surgeon and Deputy Medical Director, in addition to the Directors of Massage Therapy and Speech/Language therapy about the effects of massage for medically fragile pediatrics.

As a result of the trainings, medical massage techniques will be implemented for the first time, the specialists will have more diversity in techniques and treatment protocols, and children will be given more appropriate care for their presenting condition(s).  This training program succeeded in reaching both medical staff and medically complex children in Central Asia with pediatric massage applications.

The groups of people I taught and the locations of practice were unique.  The experiences were fulfilling for the children, the practitioners, the directors and myself.  The children are living with health disorders and disabilities which include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Downs Syndrome, HIV/AIDS, paralysis, club foot, amputation, scoliosis, cancer, autism, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, deafness, blindness, post-surgical scarring, cognitive and behavioral disabilities, and epilepsy.  Teaching specific pediatric massage therapy techniques for health disorders and disabilities to the medical staff and caregivers will leave a lasting positive impact on the children’s care and overall well-being.

This experience was made possible by a grant from Oncology Youth Connection and a grant from the Massage Therapy Foundation.  I thank them for their support!