The director of the Community College of Rhode Island’s Therapeutic Massage program spent 14 days in four orphanages in Vietnam last month exploring the outcomes of therapeutic massage on children with compromised health.
Regina M. Cobb joined with 11 other massage therapists from around the United States, Malaysia, China, Australia and Japan who are also interested in the benefits of pediatric massage on physical health, such as improved mobility, and its immune system-strengthening effects on these children.
They spent their days working together in orphanages with children ages 4 months to 18 years old in a pediatric massage volunteer program called Buds to Blossoms that brings international teams of volunteers to Katmandu, Nepal and Ho Chi Minh City several times a year. Cobb said she was most impressed by how receptive the kids receiving treatment were to making connections with outsiders.
“One-on-one nurturing, attention and touch helps meet the children’s emotional and developmental needs as well as provide relief from their constant pain and anxiety. Massage also improves the mobility of children with perpetually contracted muscles by relieving tension,” Cobb said.
Cobb was recruited by Buds to Blossoms while attending the National AMTA Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when she received the AMTA 2016 Teacher of the Year Award.
Cobb said she is interested in developing a curriculum and internship in pediatric therapeutic massage and is talking with Hasbro Children’s Hospital about the benefits of massage in pediatric care plans.
She recently worked with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office and the National Association of Attorneys General in support of legislation that would compel medical insurance providers to cover therapeutic massage and other sustainable, patient-focused therapies as part of their pain treatment plan as an alternative to opioids.
Cobb also teaches hospital-based massage oncology therapy to licensed massage therapists twice a year at two local hospitals. Massage therapists can earn 40 continuing education hours in a 10-week internship with an NCBTMB-approved provider. Students learn to identify the role of the massage therapist in the clinical setting and to work collaboratively with hospital staff on patients’ pain management plans.