Researchers at Kennedy Krieger Studying Efficacy of Energy Therapy

June 10, 2003
Form of alternative therapy complements traditional medicine for pediatric patients with developmental disabilities

Baltimore - Researchers at Kennedy Krieger are the first in the country to scientifically study the effectiveness of a nontraditional therapy, called "energy therapy," on children with developmental disabilities.

Energy therapy is a form of complementary or alternative medicine that involves the use of the body's electromagnetic system. Through the hands of a healer, this continuous field that surrounds the body is balanced, by light touch, to aid in healing. Like many alternative therapies, its efficacy is mostly anecdotal; until now, it has not been studied in controlled, scientific trials.

Current studies at Kennedy Krieger involve healer Rev. Rosalyn Bruyere, perhaps the country's most notable energy healer. Funded by a private family foundation, the studies are designed to determine whether energy therapy has any healing effect on patients with developmental disabilities when used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments.

Previously conducted pilot studies at Kennedy Krieger have shown that energy therapy significantly calms and relaxes some children, allowing them to be more receptive to traditional therapies and in some cases enhancing the ability to more easily provide range-of-motion therapy.

One of the studies involves children ages 8 to 12 years old with ADHD. These children are scanned in Kennedy Krieger's F.M Kirby Center for Functional Brain Imaging before and after receiving energy therapy to evaluate differences in brain activity. The second study involves children ages 3 to 8 who have autism. They are observed during play before and after therapy sessions for differences in habits and behaviors.

"The positive results of these studies will only allow Kennedy Krieger to broaden our interdisciplinary treatments for children," says Sharon A. Reeves, M.S.N., R.N., and Chief Healthcare Executive at Kennedy Krieger. "Incorporating this type of therapy to our regimen can only improve our quality of patient care."

Families at Kennedy Krieger can opt to participate in alternative therapy as a complement to traditional therapies. For example, a child with cerebral palsy who has painful stiffening of the muscles in his limbs may experience noticeable reduction of tension in his muscles following an energy therapy treatment, which makes physical therapy more tolerable and effective.

"Because this therapy is non-invasive, it can be implemented around a patient's existing schedule," says Char Koller, R.N., coordinator for Energy Therapy Studies at Kennedy Krieger. "It blends well with the traditional methods of therapy."

Proponents of energy therapy say it helps a wide range of ailments, including emotional instability and even infertility. Bruyere visits the Institute from California several times a year to offer training courses for staff, participate in research protocols and to treat patients.

Kennedy Krieger Institute is dedicated to helping children and adolescents with disabilities resulting from disorders of the brain achieve their potential and participate as fully as possible in family, community and school life. For more information about Kennedy Krieger, visit www.kennedykrieger.org.

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