Massage: 4 Techniques That Could Help Your Child in a Wheelchair

Massage offers a lovely opportunity for bonding. Gentle, relaxing touch is a great non-verbal way to communicate tenderness andcare, andbuild the connection between child and caregiver. It promotessecure attachment, releases feel-good hormones and helps our child feel loved and cherished. 

The idea of learning to massage can be daunting, but there is lots of great information out there to help us get started. We’ve put together our favourite videos on how to massage your child with Cerebral Palsy. 

Activities for disabled children
  • Massage relaxes tight muscles and other soft tissues. This may lead to better joint ranges of movement and thus improve movement skills. 

  • Children in wheelchairs or who have some difficulties with movement and coordination often don’t get sensory input (touch or physical contact) to all areas of their bodies. When parts of our bodies get less stimulation, the feedback to the brain is less – so they move less effectively. Massage wakes up our children’s muscles and allows them the opportunity to move better. Massaging the hands or legs is therefore a great thing to do before playing or working on gross motor skills/movements. 

  • Children who aren’t moving so much can have issues with circulation. Massage helps, because contracting underused muscles helps blood and other fluids move around the body. We always work towards the heart when we massage to help this process. 

  • Massage that includes movement of legs and hips and gentle manipulation of the tummy can help move stomach contents, reducing trapped wind and constipation. 

While this introductory video talks about children up to 6 months of age, the principles apply across the board – particularly if your child is not moving very much or struggles to reach gross motor milestones.

This video takes you through the whole-body massage with explanations of different techniques. As the masseuse explains, as your child gets older you may only get and arm or a leg in at a time but persevere as they will still get the benefits. If your child is older do feel free to pause the video to make sure you have time to cover the whole body in your massage-going slowly is more beneficial than rushing to keep up. You can also use more age appropriate songs as they get older. 

This is a simple video showing some calming massage techniques for children who are over-stimulated/ over-excited. This can be lovely before bed or when they need to concentrate.  

This video demonstrates hand and lower arm massage techniques. This can be lovely with children with tight hands or with floppy hands. If hands are tight, be careful to stretch slowly as you massage and keep looking in your child’s face to make sure you aren’t causing any discomfort. 

Our Home Videos

Massage using Hand over Hand Technique

Massaging whilst hand-washing

Other Helpful Resources

Thank you for visiting Gympanzees’ website. All information provided by Gympanzees is of general nature and for educational / entertainment purposes. It is up to you as the parent or family member to judge what is appropriate and safe for your child. No information provided by Gympanzees should replace any professional information and advice that you have been given and speak to your therapist or doctor if you are unsure of anything. Should you use any of the information provided by Gympanzees, you do so at your own risk and hold Gympanzees harmless from any and all losses, liabilities, injuries or damages resulting from any and all claims.