Effects of Tactile-Kinesthetic Stimulation in Preterms: A Controlled Trial


Sheila Mathai, Armida Fernandez, Jayshree Mondkar and Wasundhara Kanbur


From the Department of Neonatology, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College and General Hospital, Sion, Mumbai, India. Correspondence to: Dr. S.S. Mathai, 50, Gangotri, Near Afghan Church, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005, India. Email: ssmathai@vsnl.net Manuscript received: February 15, 2001, Initial review completed: April 18, 2001, Revision accepted: June 6, 2001. https://indianpediatrics.net/oct2001/oct-1091-1098.htm


To determine the effects of tactile-kinesthetic stimulation to preterms on physiologic parameters, physical growth and behavioral development.


Controlled trial.


The premature unit (growing nursery) of a large, teaching hospital.


48 well preterms with birth weights between 1000-2000 grams.


The neonates were systematically allocated into test and control groups. Test babies received tactile-kinesthetic stimulation in the form of a structured baby massage from day 3 to term corrected age. They were observed for changes in vital parameters (heart rate, respiration, temperature and oxygen saturation) during the first few days of stimulation in hospital. Thereafter, massage was continued at home. Changes in weight, length and head circumference and neuro-behavior (Brazelton Neuro-Behavioral Assessment Scale) were assessed in both groups before, during and after the study period.


An increase in heart rate (within physiologic range) was seen in the test group during stimulation. This group also showed a weight gain of 4.24 g/day more than controls, which was statistically significant. On the Brazelton Scale the test group showed statistically significant improved scores on the ‘orientation’, ‘range of state’, ‘regulation of state’ and ‘autonomic stability’ clusters at follow-up. No significant complications were noted. A positive correlation was found between the duration of stimulation in days and the weight gain in grams but this did not reach statistical significance.


Tactile-kinesthetic stimulation when administered to well, preterm infants has a beneficial effect on growth and behavioral development with no adverse effects on physiologic parameters.