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Yoga Therapy: Healing and positive coping practices for hospitalized children

At 14-years-old, Amjad was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells. Diagnosis of life-threatening illness, like this one, certainly impacts a child’s physical health but is a catalyst for great emotional distress and can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

During Amjad’s battle, every day brought new challenges – from pain management, to coping with treatments, and overall relaxation. At times, his struggles made it difficult to even get out of bed. To complement his treatment plan, doctors suggested Amjad may benefit from yoga therapy and recommended routine visits from the hospital’s yoga therapist.

Since August 2017, with more than $100,000 in grant support from The Children’s Foundation, yoga therapy has been integrated into Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s (CHM) Child Life and Alternative Therapies department. The yoga therapist collaborates with medical professionals to provide patients with yoga therapy in coordination with current treatments.

The goals are many: reduce stress and anxiety, improve function, build and strengthen flexibility, help support ongoing preventative care, and empower patients and families to cope with complex situations in a healthy and productive manner.

The yoga therapist helps regulate the patient’s nervous system with a variety of tools and technique including postures and movement, breathing exercises, and meditation. By integrating the mind-body-spirit relationship, the patient builds a long-term practice of mindfulness and positive coping.

At times, it was physically difficult for Amjad to participate in some of the techniques, so his favorite practice was a guided imagery meditation. This helped Amjad with pain management and soothed the intense emotions was experiencing. His father said he could see a noticeable shift in Amjad’s attitude; that he seemed to be more energetic and in better spirits.

Yoga therapy treats each patient as a whole and considers the uniqueness of each case. With yoga therapy, the approach is infinitely customizable and promotes individual healing and wellness needs of patients and families regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, condition, mental or physical ability.

“With the support of The Children’s Foundation, the yoga therapy program at CHM is at the forefront of leading integrative care,” said Maureen Stys, Manager, Child Life & Volunteer Services, Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “We are able to educate and collectively support patients and families in alternative interventions to utilize in and out of the hospital”

Help us improve the health and wellness of more children and families.

You can help us reach more children and families by making a gift to The Children’s Foundation. Click here to make your gift.

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