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‘Imagination’ can reduce abdominal pain in children: Study

The study follows prior research which have shown that therapy and guided imagery are effective to reduce pain and improve quality of life.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi |
October 12, 2009 4:06:58 pm

Children who use their imagination to control frequent bouts of abdominal pain are three times more likely to tackle the problem compared to those who go for standard treatment,a research has shown.

According to the study,carried out by University of North Carolina and Duke University Medical Center,by guiding children to imagine things like floating on a cloud or letting a special shiny object melt into their hand and then placing their hand on their belly,spreading warmth and light inside the tummy to make a protective barrier,prevents anything from irritating the belly.

During the study,15 of the 30 children,aged between six and 15 years,were provided with audio-CDs of “guided imagery” – a technique which prompts the subject to imagine things which will reduce their discomfort,and asked to follow the instructions in the CDs for eight weeks.

After the term,73.3 per cent of those who used the CDs reported that their abdominal pain was reduced by half or more. Only 26.7 per cent in the standard medical care group achieved the same level of improvement.

“What is especially exciting about our study is that children can clearly reduce their abdominal pain a lot on their own with guidance from audio recordings,and they get much better results that way than from medical care alone,” said Miranda Van Tilburg,an Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

The benefits were maintained for the next six months in over 60 per cent of the children,the research said.

The treatment is inexpensive and can be used in addition to other treatments,said Tilburg.

The study,which is published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics,follows prior research which have shown that behavioural therapy and guided imagery are effective to reduce pain and improve quality of life.

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