Massage Therapy: Here to Help

We are in the middle of long, cold winter. This time of year can be tough on anyone, but can you imagine braving the cold weather and tackling your resolutions while having a child in the hospital? It’s hard to fathom the emotional state of parents who may be feeling scared, alone or frustrated by being with a sick child in the hospital when there is so much going on at home. Many parents have other children at home who may not understand why their siblings and parents are not around.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the only children’s hospitals to staff a department of full-time, licensed massage therapists. Here, massage therapy is integrated into the patient’s overall plan of care. Our licensed massage therapists attempt to alleviate the stress and emotional distress families go through at the hospital by providing calming and therapeutic touch.

Our massage therapy team provides services to patients of all ages with varying diagnoses and functional problems. These may include cystic fibrosis, asthma, sickle cell disease, limb salvage, migraine headaches, seizures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, heart transplant, burns, various orthopedic conditions, arthritis, detoxification, feeding disorders, anxiety, depression and even end-of-life care. We are here for all patients in need of comfort.

Patients report feeling less stressed or anxious after having a massage, but they are not the only ones to benefit — the effects of massage therapy can radiate to parents, visitors and other hospital staff who may be present in the room during a massage therapy session. Parents have reported a sense of peace and relief during the child’s massage when they see their child’s anxiety or discomfort directly impacted through touch. By creating a sense of peace in a child and in the room, we hope to transcend the pressure of busy, stressful schedules for our patients and their families, even if only for a short time.

Fun fact: It only takes 20 seconds of touch for oxytocin, a stress reducing hormone, to be released. So go out there and give 20 second hugs to all you see!

Amanda Sonk
Mandy Sonk graduated from Capital University in 1999 with a degree in Psychology and Criminology. She became a Licensed Massage Therapist in 2006. Prior to working at NCH, Mandy worked for the State of Ohio for 12 years and most recently at OSU’s Center for Integrative Medicine as a LMT. Since 2012 Mandy has worked as in Inpatient Massage Therapist on the rehab floor. Her primary interests are with traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries and is Certified in Pediatric Massage. Besides feeling blessed to be a part of the NCH team, she has a 6 year old daughter (Loren) and a 3 year old son (Collin) along with a terrific husband. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, going to concerts, movies and sporting events.

2 thoughts on “Massage Therapy: Here to Help

  1. Kimberly Tincher on said:

    My daughter, Kaitlyn Tincher, has most definitely benefited from the massage therapy services she receives each time she is in-patient. We met Deborah Zerkle, massage therapist, a couple years ago when Kaitlyn’s health started to decline drastically. She was in and out of the hospital on a regular basis. As a result, she started having more pain, depression and anxiety that she was having a very hard time controlling. It was than that we met Deborah. She walked into Kaitlyn’s room and just her attitude and cheerfulness alone made Kaitlyn feel like she had a “new friend”. Deborah continues to bless our lives each time Kaitlyn sees her walk in because she knows that when Deborah leaves, she feels much more in control of her pain and anxieties. The massage actually helps control her pain. Kaitlyn now considers her not only as a therapist, but as a friend as well.

    Kimberly Tincher (Mom)

  2. Jolene Birtcher on said:

    Our experience with Nationwide Children’s Hospital began 15 years ago when my son was in for a couple surgical procedures (one outpatient and the other a 4 day hospital stay). This year, my son again returned for another surgical procedure on his spine. He had spinal fusion. The pain he endured for this procedure is excruciating. THANKS to Mandy and another gentleman coming in 3 out of the 4 days he was in Children’s Hospital, the massages were something he looked forward to. Can’t thank you enough for your kind words of encouragement and soft hands to reduce the tension.

    Jolene and Weston Birtcher

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