Special Needs Abdominal Massage – Maintaining a Health Bowel Movement Schedule

By Christopher Allan, LMT, MTI

When I was twenty years old I worked at a group home in California taking care of four men with Cerebral Palsy.  Every morning I would do the wake up, bathing, cooking, cleaning and daily support throughout my shift. This job taught me a lot and exposed me to the care and attention that is needed to succeed with taking care of these four men.  When I look back on this experience I really wish I would have known to incorporate abdominal massage into their daily routine.   The tracking of bowel movements is always a part of the attendant and/ or nursing care regiment for maintaining proper health in a home care setting.

I remember a couple of the guys I took care of had bowel and constipation issues. If only I had known about the power of abdominal massages back then.  Those simple effleurage techniques massaging the abdomen in a clock-wise motion would have been so effective for helping relieve their issues.  I would have also incorporated some reflexology point work on the intestines, stomach and bladder along with my abdominal massage routine.

Five years ago I founded a company, Health Care Therapies, to provide massage therapy services for kids and adults with disabilities.  A lot of the clients we work with today have Cerebral Palsy and a lot of our clients encounter issues with keeping a regular bowel movement schedule.  Whenever we evaluate a new client we make sure to ask about regularity because we know this is an area we have had success.  Before ever performing abdominal massage techniques with any client make sure to do a thorough intake and be aware of any contraindications that may include feeding tubes, recent or past surgeries or anything else that you need to be aware of.  Even if there is a feeding tube in the abdomen you can work around it under the supervision of a parent or nurse.

When I look back at my experience at the group home over twenty years ago I think of how powerful it would have been to use the abdomen massage technique and reflexology every morning for at least five minutes and we would have all been amazed at the results.

If you would like to learn more about working with individuals with special needs such as Cerebral Palsy and Autism, come to our Massage for Special Needs Workshop on Sunday January 20 from 10am to 5pm at the Lauterstein Conway Massage School.