Pulmonary functions of children with asthma improve following massage therapy

J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Nov;17(11):1065-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0758.


Objectives: This study aimed at evaluating the effect of massage therapy on the pulmonary functions of stable Egyptian children with asthma.

Design: This study was an open, randomized, controlled trial.

Settings/location: The study was conducted in pediatric allergy and chest unit of the New Children's Hospital of Cairo University, Egypt.

Subjects and interventions: Sixty (60) children with asthma were divided randomly into two equal groups: massage therapy group and control group. Subjects in the massage therapy group received a 20-minute massage therapy by their parents at home before bedtime every night for 5 weeks in addition to the standard asthma treatment. The control group received the standard asthma treatment alone for 5 weeks.

Outcome measures: Spirometry was performed for all children on the first and last days of the study. Forced expiratory flow in first second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), FEV1/FVC and peak expiratory flow (PEF) were recorded.

Results: At the end of the study, mean FEV1 of the massage therapy group was significantly higher than controls (2.3-0.8 L versus 1.9-0.9 L, p=0.04). There was no significant difference in FVC (2.5-0.8 L versus 2.7-0.7 L, p=0.43). However, FEV1/FVC ratio showed a significant improvement in the massage therapy group (92.3-21.5 versus 69.5-17, p<0.01). PEF difference was not significant (263.5-39.6 L/minute versus 245.9-32 L/minute, p=0.06).

Conclusions: A beneficial role for massage therapy in pediatric asthma is suggested. It improved the key pulmonary functions of the children, namely, FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio. However, further research on a larger scale is warranted.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume*
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Spirometry
  • Vital Capacity*