by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016
What are Seizures and Epilepsy?
For children, having seizures or Epilepsy can be frightening, and even more so for parents who witness the seizure. When a child experiences a seizure, the first thing that needs to be done is to try and ascertain a diagnosis. There are different types of pediatric seizures a child may experience.
As defined by E Medicine Health; a seizure occurs when the brain functions abnormally, resulting in a change in movement, attention, or level of awareness. Different types of seizures may occur in different parts of the brain and may be localized (affect only a part of the body) or widespread (affect the whole body). Seizures may occur for many reasons, especially in children. Seizures in newborns may be very different than seizures in toddlers, school-aged children, and adolescents. Epilepsy refers to a pattern of chronic seizures of any type over a long period. Thirty percent of children diagnosed with epilepsy continue to have repeated seizures into adulthood, while others improve over time.
Treatment for Seizures and Epilepsy
The first consideration of treatment for children affected by seizure disorders in most cases is medication. It is often recommended that the medication prescribed be started when the healthcare provider recognizes that there is a significant likelihood that additional seizures will occur and that the seizures will cause potential harm. This is best predicted by healthcare providers when they have had a chance to determine the identity of the seizure type and epilepsy.
Benefit of Massage and Alternative Therapies
Currently, many healthcare practitioners are also exploring the benefits of using alternative based therapies in their treatment of children with seizures. There have been many studies which have found that more than 50% of people experience declines in seizure frequency with the use of relaxation techniques such as massage therapy.
Although, not caused by stress specifically, many seizure disorders and epilepsy could likely be decreased, or in essence children may have fewer attacks, when their levels of stress and tension are reduced. Research findings have demonstrated that massage therapy promotes relaxation and helps decrease stress, a possible trigger of some seizures.
Parent and Caregiver Considerations
As a parent, you will want to find a massage therapist who is qualified to treat children. A practitioner trained in Pediatric Massage Therapy should possess the background to properly use methods of touch therapy for children with seizure disorders.
When choosing a massage therapist, or other alternative therapy provider, it is important to consider the following:
- Be sure to discuss the alternative therapy with your child's healthcare provider prior to their receiving alternative treatment.
- Be sure to discuss child's epilepsy, or seizure disorder, with the massage or alternative therapist prior to the child receiving any treatment.
- Take care to notice any side effects following an alternative therapy, check with your child's massage or alternative therapist, and healthcare provider immediately.
- Do not allow your child to stop taking his/her anti-epileptic medication suddenly, or alter the dosage of medication, without the guidance of your child’s healthcare provider.
- Use care and caution with the use of herbal and alternative medication. Herbs may have harmful, rather than helpful, effects if not administered properly. Always consult your healthcare provider prior to introducing any herbal treatment for your child.
Massage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist. Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.
For more information visit Comprehensive Pediatric Massage Training Course (CPMT)
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