Integrative Medicine — Pediatric

Integrative medicine combines standard medical treatment with complementary therapies that have been shown to be safe and effective. Acupuncture, massage, Reiki and others provide a personalized response to a patient’s needs during their treatment journey. We offer integrative medicine to help patients cope with their treatment for cancer, hematologic conditions, and stem cell transplant.

Our integrative medicine specialist will meet with interested pediatric and adolescent patients and their families, assess their supportive care needs on an ongoing basis, and provide interventions throughout the course of therapy in order to:

  • Manage and relieve treatment side effects
  • Improve stamina, appetite and sleep
  • Reduce pain, anxiety and fatigue
  • Help make the treatment experience easier

Why it’s important

Patients and their families often look for non-medical supportive care options to enhance their treatment experience. Integrating these complementary therapies, for which there is evidence for safety and efficacy, can benefit the patient without risking the side effects of additional drugs and pain medication.

Roswell Park offers the Integrative Medicine program to our pediatric and adolescent patients in the inpatient and outpatient clinics. Young adult patients can receive acupuncture and Reiki in the Survivorship Center, located on the 3rd floor of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center.

How we can help

Integrative medicine aims to reduce the negative impact of treatments by helping to alleviate stress, tension, anxiety, pain, nausea and other side effects while promoting relaxation, and improving mood and general wellbeing. Our practitioner will discuss various options to determine which integrative techniques may best be suited to you. Treatment sessions generally take 10 to 30 minutes and include one or more of the following:

  • Acupuncture and acupressure. These techniques stimulate specific points on the body, called acupoints, to help alleviate symptoms. Acupuncture uses very thin, one-time-use needles (acupressure uses touch) to stimulate the points and reduce symptoms of pain, fatigue, nausea and anxiety.
  • Magnet therapy involves the placement of magnets at specific acupoints to stimulate the point; these may be used instead of needles on patients who are uncomfortable with needles or an alternative for older children who are not yet able to lie still for 20 minutes. -
  • Shonishin (sho "little," ni "children" and shin "needle") is a style of pediatric acupuncture. This style does not involve sticking needles into the child. A tool is rhythmically stroked, rubbed, taped and/or pressed on the skin to produce a variety of gentle stimulation sensations. Children enjoy the treatment and look forward to their appointments. Many young patients have called it the tickle treatment.
  • Massage therapy improves relaxation and helps alleviate stress and pain. A variety of techniques including tuina (Chinese medical massage) may be incorporated.
  • Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. The general meaning of Rei is spiritual wisdom and Ki means life energy.
  • Mindfulness and meditation are practices used to help you focus awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Techniques include breathing exercises, meditation and guided imagery to reduce stress and improve coping. Research has supported these therapeutic techniques for many facets of health and wellness.
  • Movement/exercise through Qi Gong which integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. Usually, these movements are designed to generate better integration of the whole body and to support everyday movements. It has many functions including reducing stiffness and soreness, increasing the body's resistance, relaxation and many more.

Acupuncture therapies do involve a fee for services, but all other integrative therapies are provided to patients at no charge. We can also teach patients and their families some of these modalities to help with symptoms as they arise.

Roswell Park offers the Integrative Medicine program to our pediatric and adolescent patients in the inpatient and outpatient clinics with a referral from their provider. Young adult and adult patients are able to receive acupuncture through the Survivorship and Supportive Care Center or by referral from their primary oncologist. Reiki is available for young adults and adults in the Survivorship and Supportive Care Center on the 3rd floor of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center, Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Colleen O'Neill, DAc, LAc
Integrative Medicine Program Manager
Department of Pediatrics