The power of human touch to heal and soothe is often underestimated. In nursing, the human touch can play a role in accelerating patient recovery times and offering reassurance during difficult times.
During COVID-19, direct human touch was eliminated during patient care regardless of infection status. With infection rates and risks much lower, it is worth considering touch as part of therapy and treatment programs whenever possible and if a patient is comfortable with that level of interaction.
Like any treatment, rules and guidelines for touch therapy must be in place at medical facilities. This eliminates misunderstandings, especially in a post-COVID environment where many have gotten used to avoiding touch whenever possible.
Touch can lower heart rate
Holding a patient’s hand can help soothe them and lower their heart rate during times of stress and discomfort. Brain waves are also slowed, leading to a more relaxed nervous system.
Massage can decrease pain levels substantially, even if done by the person experiencing the pain
Simply by massaging a specific tendon in their neck, participants in one study were found to decrease their headache pain by 58% . Touch is so powerful that even if you do not have someone else to do it, you can get some significant benefits by massaging yourself.
The power of a hug
While not everyone is a natural hugger, it is hard to deny the benefits of hugging. Studies have found regular hugging can help with pain and stress and encourage weight gain in preterm infants. In other cases, hugging was found to lower aggression levels.
Massages can improve the immune system
Regular massages can help boost the immune system and lower stress levels, thus helping the body heal faster. If you do not have access to regular massages, then some exercises that encourage the movement of the skin can offer similar benefits. Many people choose to do yoga due to its relaxing nature and how low impact it is.
Human touch can lower blood pressure
High blood pressure is more common than it should be. Undergoing treatments at a medical facility may be stressful enough for a patient, and even if they usually have good blood pressure, they may experience spikes. Reducing blood pressure helps the body relax and heal, improving overall patient outcomes.
Treating touch-averse patients
Some people just may not appreciate being touched much at all. However, they may respond better to some touch therapy than others. The most important thing is respecting the patient and their choices. Nurses should try to explain the benefits of some things like massage therapy or yoga to touch-averse patients and then proceed with what the patient is comfortable with. Massage is often a good starting point for touch-averse patients.
Touch helps medical professionals form a bond with their patients
In modern times there has been a trend towards patients and doctors or nurses not bonding as well as they did in the years past. This is due to distrust in the medical system and higher patient stress levels . When patients feel closer to their medical provider, and their stress levels are lower, they respond better to treatments and are less likely to make poor medical choices for themselves and their loved ones.
Nurses help patients heal with the human touch
There is a shortage of qualified nurses to soothe and treat patients. Nurses are the medical professionals that interact with patients the most. It is important that nursing programs teach the benefits of touch to new nurses. The Holy Family University ABSN is an accelerated nursing degree that can be earned online. It is a great program for those who want to make a fast career change that allows them to help others while enjoying the benefits of a career that is in high demand no matter where you might live.
Nursing is a profession with fantastic potential for advancement for those who get started now. It also allows for flexibility in where you live because hospitals and other facilities aggressively recruit and offer good benefits packages to fill long-standing vacancies.
The power of the human touch is fantastic. The medical community would be wise to acknowledge this and try to utilize this low-cost resource. When patients heal faster, healthcare costs are reduced, and medical facilities can treat more patients.
With a large, aging population, medical facilities must find reasonable ways to treat more patients without sacrificing the quality of care offered to all.