Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© sensory massage for Down syndrome

About Down syndrome

Down syndrome (DS) is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. Most people with DS have mild to moderate problems with cognition, language and memory, as well as various health problems.

Low muscle tone and difficulties with movement and posture are very common in DS. Problems with sensory processing are also frequent – for example visual impairments, difficulties processing auditory (sound) and tactile (touch) information, or pain signals.

Until recently, the commonly held view was that people with DS have decreased sensitivity to pain. However scientists have recently discovered that the processing of pain by the nervous system of people with DS is slower, but that their experience of pain is the same, or even stronger, than in other people.

Children with DS often have behavioural problems, such as stubbornness, attention problems, obsessive or compulsive behaviours. If a child is sensitive to noise or has problems processing visual information, he or she will easily feel distracted or overwhelmed in a busy, fast-paced environment, which can result in tantrums and other challenging behaviours. That child could also have difficulty transitioning to new and unfamiliar places, and could react negatively to a change in routine. Novel situations and environments will be full of new information that their sensory and nervous systems need to process and get used to, and the child will therefore be resistant to changes.

Children with DS whose nervous system is very sensitive to touch can find hygiene routines very difficult. Parents often find their child with DS will resist dressing up, washing hair and brushing teeth. On the other hand the child might seek out sensory pressure in inappropriate ways by grinding teeth, pressing objects against their body or putting them in their mouths.

Sensory processing is a natural function of the body and crucial for adapting to, and reacting to one’s environment and to other people. When there is a problem in how the nerves and the brain process sensory information from the environment that will have negative consequences on the child’s behaviour and their quality of life.

The role of complimentary therapies in Down syndrome

At present time there is no way to cure or reverse Down syndrome, but many therapies exist which can help reduce the difficulties and specific symptoms and challenges, and improve the individual’s quality of life. Therapeutic approaches differ from person to person, depending on each individual’s specific needs.

Complementary and alternative therapies that are often used and researched for their effects in DS include nutritional therapies and supplements, speech and language, sensory integration therapy, occupational and various movement and massage therapies.

One of the ways of improving health and functioning of people with DS is to anticipate and address the health issues that occur in childhood, and to stimulate sensitivity of the nervous system and parts of the brain that process sensory information. For example massage therapy was found to positively affect muscle tone and motor development, as well as use of vision in young children with DS.

Since it is well known that optimal blood flow and muscle activity also affects brain development, therapeutic pressure massage has many potential benefits for children with DS.

Chinese Medicine and Chinese massage for Down syndrome

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the state of an individual’s health is highly dependent on their blood circulation and the flow of energy in the body. If, for example, circulation and supply of blood to the muscles tissue is not optimal, it will result in a low muscular tone. Chinese pressure massage, like acupuncture, aims to stimulate the blood flow and so improve delivery of nutrients and removal of toxins from the muscle, and in this way bring about lasting improvements in muscle tone and motor functioning.

Deep tissue stimulation by acupuncture or Chinese massage also aims to stimulate the nervous system, including the nerves that conduct sensory and pain signals to and from the brain. Parts of the brain that process and integrate sensory information, pain perception, memory processing and integration of emotion are also thought to be involved in this process. According to some studies, acupuncture and deep pressure massage appear to also stimulate and positively affect functioning of the parts of the brain that control motor function.

A group of researchers that looked at the effect of parent-delivered Chinese massage on children with DS observed improvements in speech and language in those children. The children who didn’t have understanding of language before the start of the therapy acquired receptive language during the course of the treatment, and children with who did have some language skills at the start acquired more and better expressive language.

“An unanticipated consequence of this study was that shortly after beginning treatment, we observed an unexpected jump in language skills in the children with Down syndrome, much as we have reported previously in our work with children with autism…Children without receptive language acquired receptive language, and children with expressive language acquired more.”

(Silva et al., 2009).

 Why Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© for Down syndrome?

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© is designed according to principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its main aims are to stimulate and increase the blood flow to the muscles, and to stimulate the nerves that conduct signals from the skin to the brain.

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© is affordable and simple to learn and practice. Once learned, the massage is carried out by parents at home. It does not involve third party involvement or travel to therapy centres. Each daily massage session takes between 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the child’s individual requirements and specific circumstances.

Daily massage performed by parents provides an opportunity for the child to benefit from regular interaction and physical contact with their parent in a safe and familiar environment of their own home. If carried out at regular times, for example, bedtime, the massage can become a part of a routine, such as a child’s bedtime routine, promoting better regulation, relaxation and sleep.

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© design and principles

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© is a unique massage therapy developed by Leonid Rozman with the aim of improving physical and emotional well-being of children with autism or DS. While it uses the traditional Chinese Tui Na massage as its starting point, and largely follows Traditional Chinese Medicine principles of enabling internal healing by the means of stimulation of body meridians and acupuncture points. However, some aspects of the more traditional massage therapies practised in the West have been incorporated into the the Rozman Method©.

While the primary aim of this therapy is to improve the physical state of a child or adult with DS and achieve improvement in areas such as low muscle tone and sensory processing, the design of Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© also pays close attention to the emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual. Many of the acupressure points on the head that are stimulated during the session are said in the Traditional Chinese Medicine to be linked to anxiety and relaxation, focus and concentration.

Improving the wellbeing and quality of life for the whole family

In addition to improving the child’s sensory processing, behaviours and social communication, different forms of tactile pressure massage therapy implemented by parents have also been shown to reduce their own stress levels and to strengthen the emotional bond between parent and child. Parents who often feel distressed about being unable to get ‘close’ to their children frequently report feeling physically and emotionally closer to their children after a period of regular massage. Children themselves – even if they are not able to communicate verbally, often express a range of non-verbal cues to initiate massage at home.

Practicing Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© daily enables parents to take hands-on action and become an active part of their child’s journey to improved wellbeing and functioning.

“A key benefit gained by parents was the feeling of closeness to children. The key benefits gained by children were perceived by the parents as improved sleep patterns, children were more relaxed after receiving the massage and appeared more amenable to touch. Of interest was children’s request for massage at home. At 16-week follow-up both parents and children continue to enjoy giving and receiving touch therapy, respectively.” (Cullen at al. 2015)

Conclusion

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© is not claimed to be a cure for Down syndrome. However, based on many parental reports, as well as positive studies on related touch-therapies and massage therapies that are based on similar principles, RM© massage has the potential to ease many of the disabling symptoms that are part of, or often accompany DS.

Parents of children with DS who have attended the training and implemented regular daily massage at home have reported improvements in motor function and coordination, improved sleep and behaviours, and overall achieving a better quality of life.

In addition, practicing this massage daily can further strengthen the special bond that parents have with their child, and so reduce parental stress and improve their own wellbeing.

How to train in Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method©?

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© training is now available online, as well as through local training courses.

In-person training courses are held approximately twice a year in London, or can be arranged on request at any location in the UK or abroad.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss a possibility of organising a training course or a demonstration workshop in your local area.

We also offer private one-to-one training. More details can be found here.

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