The Power of Touch

By: Judi Koch, CA

Even though I have never considered myself a “touchy-feely” kind of person, I relish warm hugs from friends, an affectionate pat from my husband, holding hands with my children. I can’t imagine life without touch. It’s a simple gesture that can say so much. Between those we love, it can be an entire conversation. Our most intimate form of communication, touch disregards age, gender, race, wealth and intellect.

Author and lecturer Ashley Montagu stated, ”The language of the senses, particularly touch, is capable of enlarging our appreciation and of deepening our understanding of each other and the world we live in. The communication we transmit through touch constitutes the most powerful means of establishing human relationship, the foundation of experience.” When I became a Chiropractic Assistant eleven years ago, it was awkward for me to greet those many strangers and convey the warmth and reassurance that is the crucial first step in the patient’s over-all Chiropractic experience. Shyness made it all sound insincere. I suppose I was afraid of revealing something too personal.

As the powers of Chiropractic began to reveal themselves to me, I found myself caught up in the healing process as a whole, especially in the unspoken needs of each patient.

Chiropractic Assistants play an important role in setting the mood of the clinic. A smile, a warm hello, the sensitivity shown, the genuine concern for individual health problems, even the thoroughness with which we explain office procedure—all help lay that valuable foundation that will ensure patient longevity and loyalty. We represent the significant first step toward that person’s well-being.

The doctor’s role, of course, is immense, as he or she treats each patient as a person, not as a “problem.” And we assistants, as extensions of our doctors, continue the healing process with the most simple conveyance of caring; by touch.

Many interpret touch as back-slapping, hand-pumping, bear-hugging assaults. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning of touch fills fourteen columns! I speak simply of the quietly asserted touch that, when done in the spirit of healing, says all the right things at all the right times. The guiding hand on an elbow, fingers on the small of the back, considerate assistance on or off a therapy table, a gentle good-bye graze on a shoulder all whisper reassurance in the most intimate way.

In a moving scene from the film “Orphans,” a wealthy gangster played by Albert Finney finds himself in the home of two troubled brothers suffering from abandonment and neglect. He penetrates the most formidable barrier with the younger brother by giving the boy’s shoulder “an encouraging squeeze to make you feel there’s hope.” The poignant scene so clearly emphasizes the universal hunger each spirit has for pure nurturing.

Researchers have long known the benefits of positive touch. In animal and human responses, it was amazing how those who experienced touching were healthier, more alert and responsive compared to those who received minimal or no handling. Tactile stimulation offered protection against stress, anxiety, rejection, insomnia and depression. It can literally be a matter of life and death, whether it pertains to tiny infants who, separated from mothers at birth, suffered ceaseless childhood diseases, or to the malaise of the elderly which expresses deep emotional problems and loneliness.

The power that made the body heals the body. Many believe touch brings God and man together. Touch can heal. Imagine going a full week without someone’s touch, Imagine longer. Thirty days. Six months. Look at each patient in a new way. We are put on earth to love one another. Let His love flow through us with a simple gesture—the touch.