The Beneficial Effects of Massage on Motor Development and Sensory Processing in Young Children with Developmental Delay: A Randomized Control Trial Study

Dev Neurorehabil. 2019 Oct;22(7):487-495. doi: 10.1080/17518423.2018.1537317. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


Purpose: We investigated the effects of massage on young children with developmental delay but no clear diagnosis (e.g., cerebral palsy, genetic diseases, or autism). Methods: Thirty-six children with DD, at 1-3 years of age, were randomly assigned to the massage (n = 18) or control group (n = 18) after being stratified by age and motor developmental quotient. The two groups continued to receive routine rehabilitation intervention, whereas the massage group additionally received 20 min of massage twice a week for 12 weeks. The Comprehensive Development Inventory for Infants and Toddlers - Diagnostic Test, the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile - Chinese version, anthropometric measures, and a sleep questionnaire were administrated before and after the massage intervention. Results: The results of analysis of covariance revealed that the massage group exhibited a greater improvement in the total motor score (p = 0.023), gross motor score (p = 0.047), and sensory sensitivity behavior (p = 0.042). Conclusion: These findings suggest that massage can effectively enhance motor and sensory processing in children with DD.

Keywords: Developmental delay; massage; motor; sensory processing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Movement*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Sensation*