The importance of movement and touch for the palliative patient

Physiotherapist Laura Jankovskaja collected scientific methodological material about volunteer help for a PALLET PATIENT (from the prism of physiotherapy).

The palliative hospice team is based on nurses who must have access to a qualified doctor.

The team in a broad sense consists of social workers, psychologists, pastoral specialists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and volunteer workers.


The physiotherapist names the 3 main forms of palliative physiotherapy:


Breathing is one of the main preventive measures for a bedridden patient to prevent pneumonia. Breathing exercises are widely used as a means of healing, relaxation and meditation.

Breathing exercises are widely used in bronchial asthma, chronic lung diseases, increased arterial pressure, intestinal infections, and others.

This is one of the main preventive measures for a bedridden patient to prevent pneumonia.

Recommended forms of breathing:

  • Even - deep breathing
  • Coughing up
  • Diaphragmatic breathing


Massage is the systematic or free application of pressure, stretching, tweaking, vibration and other physical action by the hands or devices on the soft parts of the body in order to have a positive effect on the body or its parts.

Can be applied to individual parts of the body or consistently to the whole body.

Effect of massage:

SKIN - increases skin temperature, improves skin condition (tone, texture).

FOR THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM - dilates blood vessels, improves blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, improves the excretion of metabolic products, reduces ischemia, reduces HRT, increases heart volume, red blood cell count, oxygen saturation in the blood.

NERVOUS AND ENDOCRAL SYSTEM - reduces stress, anxiety, reduces pain, promotes relaxation

FOR MUSCLES - the elasticity of muscle fibers increases, their contractile function improves, muscle atrophy is prevented, conditions for better lymph and blood circulation in muscles are created, and at the same time - muscle cell metabolism, nutritional and regenerative functions are created.
FOR JOINTS AND TENDONS - the receptors of joints and tendons are stimulated, the joint and the surrounding tissue are better supplied with blood, the joint capsule is strengthened, and the elasticity of the ligaments is improved.

LYMPHOSE AND IMMUNE SYSTEM - improves lymph circulation, increases the number of white blood cells (the body fights the disease better).

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM - reduces the frequency of breathing, strengthens the respiratory muscles, increases the excretion of fluids from the lungs, improves lung function.

FOR INTERNAL ORGANS - stimulates digestion, improves intestinal peristalsis.

  • In 2014, the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) conducted a study to evaluate the contribution of massage therapy to the care of palliative patients.

The study found a statistically significant reduction in pain intensity and anxiety, while increasing patients' sense of relaxation and inner peace.

  • 2016 Japanese researchers conducted a study to evaluate the effects of Tatsumura’s pair-hands-healing method on the autonomic nervous system and emotions of palliative patients.

It was found that after the massage session the heart rate decreased (0.05 < p <0.1), the EQS decreased (p <0.05), the relaxation level increased (p <0.05), the anxiety and fear level decreased (anxiety p <0.01, fear p <0.05) . All changes were statistically significant.

  • 2017 A literature review of 98 scientific articles published since 2000 was conducted in 2006, the authors of which concluded that massage applied to palliative oncology patients (including hospice) has a positive effect on the physical and mental condition of patients.

It has been found that after massage sessions, patients experience pain, anxiety, depression, stress, relaxation and peace of mind.

The main highlights of the massage:

Upper and lower limb massage - LET'S WARM UP.

4 main elements of massage technique - stroking, rubbing, soothing, vibration.

Caution - calves, neck, shoulder strap.

The movements are gentle, in the direction of lymph flow all the time

3. MOVEMENT - In palliative care it is important to know certain norms of joint amplitudes.

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