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Using Healing Touch to Enhance Recovery from Surgery

The response of the human body to surgery can be varied and affect many of its systems from a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual perspective. Stress related to fear of the outcome or recovery can slow recovery and is addressed in another section on Reducing Stress. The body uses pain as a way to recognize that an injury has occurred and in this case a surgical incision and either removal or addition (in the case of joint replacement) is the trigger event. Healing Touch's effect on pain is addressed in the on Decreasing Pain. Recovery is often reflected in a variety of ways including the lack of complications, use of medication, time to discharge, and other factors. Some of the studies that reflect this process will be addressed here.

In one study with patients undergoing abdominal surgery there was a significantly higher level of recovery, lung, gastrointestinal, and activity status in additional to greater relaxation (1). The amount of narcotic pain medication and bowel treatments were also less. Healing Touch has been used prior to cardiac angioplasty with a reduction in adverse outcomes (2). In a follow up study, mortality at 6 months was lower with the combined Healing Touch, music, and imagery group, although this might have been due to other factors not associated with the intervention (3). In another study patients had shorter hospital stays with having coronary artery bypass surgery (4). Using Healing Touch before surgery was found to significantly decreased worry and increase satisfaction in another study (5). The Healing Touch group also showed a decrease in upsetness, sadness, and shortness of breath; and an increase in calmness, hope and happiness.

Patient satisfaction surveys in acute care setting also show benefits to receiving Healing Touch. At Saint Joseph's Hospital in Tampa Bay Florida a survey in 2004 found that Healing Touch significantly decreased pain, anxiety, and nausea and also increased patient satisfaction (6). Those using the services most frequently were patients having surgical repair for orthopedic problems although a variety of other patients also participated. Another survey was conducted at Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2004 (7). This hospital has had a Healing Touch program in place for the past ten years with more than fifty individual practitioners providing services. Patients request Healing Touch through the volunteer office, are recommended for treatment by nurses, doctors, or other family members or are approached by a volunteer. Both pain and anxiety levels were found to be significantly reduced after a Healing Touch treatment. Some typical comments made on this survey were "Less pain in my knee", 'Felt more tranquil", and "Relaxed, ready to sleep".

Healing Touch is being used in many hospitals across the country. Patients can request a Healing Touch session if Healing Touch is part of the hospital services or they may bring in their own practitioner. For a list of Certified Practitioners please visit our Worldwide Healing Touch Directory on this website.

Below are citations of studies about recovery from surgery that are mentioned above:

  1. Silva, C. (1996). The Effects of Relaxation Touch on the Recovery Level of Postanesthesia Abdominal Hysterectomy Patients. Abstract. Alternative Therapies, Vol. 2, No. 4.
  2. Krucoff, M., Crater, S., Green, C., Mass, A., Seskevich, J., Lane, J., Loeffler, K., Morris, K., Bashore, T., & Koenig, H. (2001). Integrative noetic therapies as adjuncts to percutaneous intervention during unstable coronary syndromes: Monitoring and actualization of noetic training (MANTRA) feasibility pilot. American Heart Journal, 142, 760-7.
  3. Krucoff, MW., Crater, S., Gallup, D., Blankenship, J., Cuffe, M., Guarneri, M., Kreiger, R., Kshettry, V., Morris, K., Oz, M., Pichard, A., Sketch, M., Kownig, H., Mark, D., & Lee, K. (2005). Music, Imagery, Touch and Prayer as Adjuncts to Interventional Cardiac Care : The Monitoring and Acutalization of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II Randomized Study. Lancet, 366, 211-217.
  4. Norby, P. (2002). Healing Touch yields results. Study title: The Efficacy of Healing Touch in Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Investigators: MacIntyre, Hamilton, Fricke, Ma, Mehl, and Michel Seskevich, J.E., Crater, S.W., Lane, J.D. & Krucoff, M.W. (2004). Beneficial effects of noetic therapies on mood before percutaneous intervention for unstable coronary symptoms. Nursing Research, 53(2), p. 116-121.
  5. Garcia, K. (2006). Healing Touch Program survey at St. Joseph's Hospital. Healing Touch International, Inc. Research Survey, 8th Ed. Lakewood, CO.
  6. Stoufeer, J. (2006). Healing Touch Patient Survey for Pain and/or Anxiety Relief. Healing Touch International, Inc. Research Survey, 8th Ed. Lakewood, CO.

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