In this review empirical data are presented on the use of touch therapy, specifically massage therapy for improving the clinical course of several conditions including growth and development of pre-term infants, reducing pain, increasing attentiveness, diminishing depression, and enhancing immune function. Potential underlying mechanisms for the massage therapy effects are proposed for each of these conditions. The general effect appears to derive from the stimulation of pressure receptors and the ensuing increase in vagal activity and slowing physiology which in turn facilitates a more relaxed behavioural state, effects a decrease in stress hormones, most particularly cortisol, and an increase in immune function, particularly natural killer cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Life-span and Life-course Studies