URBANA — When 9-month-old Shayla Ramey was first referred to the Pediatric Rehab Center at Mercy Memorial Hospital, the playful infant was facing a range of physical challenges…

For Brandi Arnold, Shayla’s mother, the new program not only helped her daughter physically, it helped her learn new ways to teach and interact with her baby…

The program began this year when Jonathan Tedena, a physical therapist at Mercy Memorial, came up with the idea as a way to become certified in infant massage while helping local families at the same time. As Shayla laid on her back on a plastic green mat, Tedena demonstrated a few of the massage techniques on a plastic doll. Arnold mimicked the moves on Shayla, gently rubbing the infant’s legs up toward her heart in what was described as the Swedish Milking technique. The technique is used to encourage blood flow to the heart, and is thought also to improve lymphatic drainage.

Along with the apparent physical benefits of the massage, the program also provides time for parents to connect with their children…

The massage session generally lasts about 20 minutes, but Tedena said they take frequent breaks whenever Shayla doesn’t seem to be in the mood. Although the sessions are held once a week, Arnold continues to massage her daughter at home daily…

Eventually, Rizza said, she’s hoping the massage program grows. While most of those involved in massage classes are two years and older, Rizza said she hopes that parents of infants and premature babies discover the purported benefits of massage as well…

Just a couple months ago, Shayla rarely moved. Last week, she spent much of the session crawling and climbing all over her mother.

“I can’t get her to sit still for nothing now,” Arnold said

— The Springfield News-Sun, Urbana, Illinios, July 13, 2009
http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/springfield-news/hospital-promotes-infant-massages-202285.html

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