The mediating role of cutaneous sensitivity within neonatal psychoneuroimmunology
by J.A. Hayes, Elvidina N. Adamson-Macedo & Shantha Perera
ventilated preterms, psychoneuroimmunology, tactile nurturing
Preliminary results of this study have been presented at the ICIS Conferences held in Atlanta, 1998; a Summary of results has been quoted in Adamson-Macedo (1997; 1998).
OBJECTIVES. Despite knowledge that preterm infants in intensive care are in distress and need to be provided with appropriate intervention, studies with ventilated babies are still rare particularly during their first weeks of life. This study tested the hypothesis that cutaneous stimulation in the form of TAC-TIC therapy, involving only light stroking and NOT massage or kinesthetic massage, has a mediating role in eliciting beneficial psychoneuroimmunological coactions in the ventilated preterm during the first week of post-natal life.
METHODS. A repeated measure, counterbalanced design, was used to collect data twice daily for three consecutive days. This intervention was compared with a control condition consisting of a period of spontaneous activity during which the same infants lay alone with no intervention taking place. For the first time, monitoring facilities were made available for immunological, physiological and behavioral responses to be assessed simultaneously before and after intervention and before and after spontaneous activities.
RESULTS. A one tailed t-test indicated that the cutaneous intervention resulted in significantly more episodes of beneficial coactions than matched sessions of spontaneous activity.
CONCLUSION. It is suggested that the sensory nerves endings in the skin receive the stimulation from the stroking actions; consequently impulses are being sent via afferent nerve fibers to the limbic system where the sensation is interpreted, by 68% of the neonates, as being comforting or not distressing.