The Healing Effects of Rocking Chair Therapy
Rocking chairs offer a soothing movement
A rocking chair gift for a new mom
As a nurse I am always interested in healing therapy-in whatever forms they come. In both my personal and professional experience one of the methods of therapy that has shown to be effective, has a low initial and maintenance cost, and is under used, is the rocking chair.
Every new mother knows that a rocking chair is a nursery necessity. From feeding a hungry newborn to quieting a fussy baby, a rocking chair is more than a place to sit. The back and forth movement of the chair assists in soothing a cranky infant, as well as an anxious mom.
Rocking chairs make wonderful gifts for the expectant parents. Just one word of caution-let the expectant mother select the chair. It really is a personal thing, not a one-size-fits-all. In fact, not only does color matter, but which style and size to match the décor of the baby’s room must be taken into consideration.
Medical benefits of rocking chairs
My personal experience occurred in the summer of 2000. Approaching a hospital for preoperative lab work, my stomach in knots, I explained to the desk clerk the purpose of my visit. She escorted me into a room that would be used to explain the surgery and sign the consents. As she swung open the door inviting me to take a seat I was shocked to find that one of the choices was a rocking chair. “How clever of them,” I thought to myself. By the time the hospital representative came in with the paper work I was relaxed and in a much more alert place to listen to her information.
Hospital Labor and Delivery Rooms include rockers
One never truly outgrows a rocker and the nostalgic and therapeutic benefits are immeasurable. Let me share with you where I have noted the careful addition of rocking chairs and the reasons that they were placed there.
In hospital labor and delivery rooms: Why? Well, for the aforementioned reasons-they soothe mom and newborn. These are also included on many hospital pediatric units.
Rocking chairs for mental health
In nursing homes: Studies have shown that dementia and Alzheimer patients have benefited by the constant motion of the rocker helping to relax them and thus decrease their agitation. Medication for agitation use is thus reduced. In one study, Nancy M. Watson, PhD, RN, associate professor at the University of Rochester, School of Nursing, in Rochester, New York, studied the effects of patients who were depressed and anxious noting that they became calmer and happier when using the rockers on a regular basis. Family members were more satisfied with their choice of using the nursing home because their loved one was more content.
On hospital psychiatric units: One of my experiences as a nurse in California was on a geriatric psychiatric unit. I was pleasantly surprised to see the unit was well stocked with rocking chairs. The unit manager used part of his budget money to supply the chairs making them easily accessible to all patients. The efficacy of this simple piece of furniture was amazing.
How rockers aid rehabilitation
The relaxing benefits of rocking, following a major heart attack, has been shown to decrease the recuperation time, while improving their overall mood. For patients suffering from the crippling effects of arthritis can improve the use of their body through the easy motion of the rocker. Rocking aids in strengthening and keeping the affected areas flexible. Patients with hypertension can benefit from rocking to reduce blood pressure, respirations and the heart beat. As one rocks and relaxes, tension is released and the major organs slow. For people who suffer from chronic lower back pain, rocking releases endorphins that improve mood and increase comfort. President Kennedy used one in his office.
Rocking chairs help special populations focus
At least one school district in North Carolina, The Iredell-Statesville Schools, have added rocking chairs in the classrooms for exceptional children. The constant movement of the rocker provides an outlet for children with disabilities such as ADD and ADHD. It helps them to focus and improves concentration. Children with Autism have benefited from the calming effect that the rocker provides. And, in September 2006, Librarian, Lindsey Biel, held a workshop at the annual American Library Association annual conference encouraging all libraries to add rocking chairs in their facilities to accommodate the special needs child.
Charlotte, North Carolina International Airport
One of my favorite airports to travel through is the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, because it’s loaded with rocking chairs-big, wooden, white traditional porch rockers. They are found in the Atrium along with potted trees, vendors and a food court. The rockers, handcrafted in North Carolina, were originally placed there as part of a photography exhibit in 1997 about the southern art of ‘porching’. The rocking chairs were so well received that they stayed. Although Charlotte was the first airport to include rocking chairs, other airports have added them as well, including San Diego, Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Seattle.
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Atrium
Add a rocker to your porch
Down south you can’t find a porch that doesn’t have a swing or rocking chair. One of the best known rocker filled porches in the food business is The Cracker Barrel Restaurant. in my opinion, no matter where you live a porch just isn’t complete unless it has a rocking chair.
Tips on buying a rocking chair
If you are in the market for a rocking chair here are some tips to help you to select a rocking chair that will give you generations of comfort and pleasure.
1. Material-one of the first things to consider is what material do you envision your rocker to be constructed from? Wood or wicker are two of the choices.
2. Style-there are so many new styles out, but the main question is-contemporary or traditional?
3. Color-white is a wonderful color for a rocking chair, especially for wicker, but a natural wood or any stain is also an option. Just remember when it comes to your satisfaction there is a rainbow of colors to choose from.
4. Cushions-if your chair is not covered in fabric you may opt for cushions.
5. Additional options would include a built in massage or heater. Now, that is getting real fancy. My first rocking chair that I received as a baby gift was a large, wooden rocker. I added the cushions for comfort. My ‘baby’ is grown with kids of her own and I still have this rocking chair.
6. Rocker or glider-the rocker is the bows at the bottom of the chair. Some chairs do not have this, but are set on a glider frame instead. Your decision is a matter of personal preference.
7. TRY IT OUT! A very important step when purchasing a rocking chair.
Additional information about rocking chairs
- A Brief History of Rocking Chairs and Their Rise to Popularity
- The John F. Kennedy Rocking Chair
HISTORY OF THE KENNEDY ROCKER For those of you who are not familiar with the John F. Kennedy rocking chair, there is quite a bit of history behind the chair. Dr. Janet Travell first found out about the P & P...