Complementary therapies for children in the ICU

David M. Steinhorn, Patricia Megregian, Rolf Sovik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The critically ill child represents but one part of a complex entity comprising the family unit. Issues which affect the family will affect the pediatric patient and vice versa. Thus, in caring for hospitalized children, attention to the needs of the family take on major importance. We speculated that a program to assist families in redirecting emotional and spiritual energies might assist in the process of curing and/or caring for their child. Methods: We have developed a program based upon two premises: 1) that families wish to help their child but lack the necessary preparative training and experience to know how to be of assistance, and 2) that all individuals can be taught basic techniques for being more fully present for their ill child. Based upon standard techniques of complementary therapies, a video tape was produced which introduces four basic topics: 1) the importance of physical touch, 2) being in tune with the child's emotional state, 3) individual relaxation through breath awareness, and 4) connecting with one's own spiritual resources. Results: Families are introduced to these concepts through a 10-minute long video tape which they can watch at their own discretion. The tape indicates that we believe these techniques to be of value and comfort both to the patient and to the individual practicing them. A pamphlet accompanies the tape and offers further resources for families interested in additional information about or assistance in practicing these techniques. In order to facilitate this complement to traditional critical care medicine, it is important to create an environment in which families feel comfortable exploring these methods. The nurses and other health care professionals are in-serviced in these techniques so that they will be accepting of the family's actions and will help to minimize a family's sense of self-consciousness. Conclusions: Complementary therapies can be taught to families which assist them and their child during the course of the ICU stay. On-going evaluation of families' acceptance and use of this material is underway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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