Home | Clinical Practice | Harnessing the power of touch

Harnessing the power of touch

A range of complementary therapies including kinesiology, massage, reiki, therapeutic touch and reflexology are being offered to palliative care patients in Adelaide to promote comfort and relaxation.

The simple relaxation techniques at the Repatriation General Hospital’s Complementary Care Centre may be the answer to helping palliative care patients and their carers to cope with pain, stress, anxiety, nausea, discomfort and even promote sleep.

Southern Adelaide Palliative Services Complementary Care Centre co-ordinator Margie Thomson, who is also a registered nurse and kinesiologist, says that certain relaxation techniques have an almost immediate effect of relaxing patients and calming them down.

“We use a toolkit of seven relaxation methods. The aim is to get the patient out of fight/flight, the emergency response mechanism of the body when you are stressed,” she said.

“With fight/flight, the blood flow goes from the frontal lobe of the brain to the more emotional or limbic part. This may stop you from thinking clearly, you might become irrational, not be able to sleep and it may even cause digestive issues.”

Before starting at the care centre in May, Thomson spent 15 years at the Royal Adelaide Hospital where she used complementary therapy techniques to settle down patients in operating theatres.

She was able to calm patients right down into a sleep-like state within five minutes.

Techniques in use include emotional stress release (ESR), easycalm (also known as hook ups or Cook’s technique) and breathing techniques that have a considerable relaxation effect.

“We are quite often told to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth,” Thomson said.

“There is a mechanism behind that. When you breathe in through your nose for most people the tongue goes to the roof of the mouth and as you breathe out it goes down. This is actually massaging the palate – a way of assisting with relaxation. So using ESR and the breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth has huge relaxation benefits.”

Thomson believes that due to the nature of the therapy, people should be able to learn the techniques to have as a relaxation “toolkit” for everyday life.

“These relaxation techniques work for aged care clients and is fabulous for Alzheimer’s patients as well. Further to this it can work for kids, basically anybody. We intuitively use a lot of the techniques; it’s more about sharing the mechanism behind why it works a bit more.”


Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *