Integrative medicine (IM) combines traditional medicine with contemporary modalities that are safe, provide health benefits, and promote healing.
Connecticut Children’s offers a variety of complementary therapies including breathing techniques, guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, and inpatient massage therapy. We provide these services in response to the growing demand from our patients and families, while also conducting research to determine their effectiveness.
There are many relaxation techniques that help reduce anxiety and stress. Taking slow, deep breaths can alter a child’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and muscle tension. Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a useful way to inhale essential oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Exercising the diaphragm in this way increases the efficiency of breathing and also induces relaxation.
Connecticut Children’s integrative medicine specialists use various techniques for teaching children how to do this, such as placing a stuffed animal on the child’s belly and asking him or her to “give the stuffed animal a ride.”
Deep breathing can be augmented by use of the use of a child’s imagination to further relax his or her body and mind. By learning about a pediatric patient’s interests such as playing at the beach or taking piano lessons, our IM specialists can serve an effective coach.
A guided imagery session is held in a quiet place with the child in a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. During the session, the integrative medicine specialist assists the child in thinking about or imagining a favorite place, or engaging in a favorite activity.
Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness during which a child focuses his or her attention on an image or idea with a specific goal in mind. In fact, day dreaming, playing make-believe, and getting “into the zone” for sports are forms of hypnosis, so everyone has experienced this phenomenon.
Children are especially capable of using hypnosis. With the assistance of a trained professional, a child can make helpful suggestions, such as “I am not going to let ____ bother me today.” Hypnosis is a fun and easy way for pediatric patients to accomplish their goals, whatever they may be.
Biofeedback uses electronic equipment to measure certain body functions, such as breathing, muscle tension, heart rate variability, and temperature. Children and families observe these functions in real time on a computer, and change them in desired ways.
Biofeedback helps young patients better communicate with their bodies, and can be useful in alleviating headaches, stomach discomfort, sleeping problems, stress, and anxiety. It can also enhance school and sports performance.
Massage therapy has been used for thousands of years to provide relaxation and decrease stress. In many instances, it has also been found to decrease pain.
Pediatric massage is offered for inpatients with a variety of diagnoses, including cancer, post-operative pain, and chronic pain. This integrative medicine service is provided by licensed massage therapists.
The Integrative Medicine program sees patients at 11 South Road in Farmington, CT. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 860.837.5758.