Healing Hands Benefit Premature Infants

A study published by medics at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, showed that Therapeutic Touch (TT) – the laying on of hands – benefited premature infants.

It was a double blind and randomized trial involving 20 infants of gestational age less than 29 weeks. Ten received 5-minute TT sessions on 3 consecutive days and ten did not. Measurements of Heart Period Variability (HPV) were taken 5 minutes before, during and after the treatment.

The results showed that the infants who had received Therapeutic Touch had increased Heart Period Variability’s, while the infants who did not receive the treatment showed no change. Low HPV is often associated with heart conditions so this demonstrated an improvement in heart health by Therapeutic Touch.

My reading of the wider topic of the laying on of hands suggests that we all have the ability to heal in this way. Many practitioners say that the key is a caring, compassionate desire to help. This, then, facilitates a warm emotional connection between healer and patient.

Recent studies have shown that warm emotional contact stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin, and this has a cardioprotective effect (it protects the heart and cardiovascular system) by lowering blood pressure, so it might be that oxytocin is produced in many instances of TT.
It’s easy for skeptics to poo poo the idea of hands-on healing techniques but I think in many cases where there is direct compassionate contact, much of the beneficial effects are actually facilitated by oxytocin, suggesting that the technique does actually have real substance and deserves more respect than it is often given.

Click here to read the article, published in ‘Advances in Neonatal Care’