We acquired our first rocking chair when I was pregnant with our first child. After all, who can have a baby without a rocker? Babies and rockers seem to go together. In fact, studies have proven that the rocking motion calms babies, helping them to sleep. And when a baby sleeps, the entire family can sleep. But there are many other health benefits to rocking chairs—ones seldom discussed—that may interest you.
Sensory Integration is the neurological course the brain uses to process multiple sensory input and utilize it to perform a response. Sometimes problems exist in the process and that condition is referred to as Sensory Integration Dysfunction. SID may be found in individuals with autism, traumatic brain injury, those with cochlear implants, and various other learning disabilities. The act of rocking has shown to improve SID. In fact, studies have shown that rocking chairs placed in classrooms help to calm children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, thereby facilitating their concentration and focus on the subject at hand.
Treating Varicose Veins
Because of the stimulation to the circulatory system, and exercise to the leg muscles, rocking in a rocking chair is recommended to prevent and treat varicose veins. This is especially helpful for the elderly or shut-in who cannot walk or swim.
A study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia discussed the use of rocking chairs with nursing home residents with dementia. This study found that “there were improvements in depression/anxiety and reductions in PRN pain medication significantly related to amount of rocking.” Those residents that enjoyed the program and wanted to continue rocking past the six weeks of the study “demonstrated significant improvements in balance as measured by center of gravity.”
Typically, after any abdominal surgery there is a certain degree of decreased motor activity of the gastro-intestinal tract. This condition, referred to as postoperative ileus or POI, causes the patient pain. According to a dissertation by Dr. Robert Lee Massey, “rocking chair motion is effective in postoperative abdominal surgery cancer patients reducing the duration of postoperative ileus.
According to an article at Mothering.com, a rocking chair is a must for any new mother. It not only soothes a fussy baby and sleep deprived mommy, but “rocking assists an infant’s biological development and promotes the baby’s ability to be alert and attentive.” Since rocking reduces the amount of postoperative ileus, it promotes healing after a cesarean section. And, since the act of rocking burns about 150 calories an hour, it helps mom to lose her pregnancy weight gain faster.
Have you ever used a rocking chair for therapeutic purposes? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
- AM J ALZHEIMERS DIS OTHER DEMEN November/December 1998 vol. 13 no. 6 296-308