Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is an intense therapy, used to treat some pediatric lifethreatening diseases, yet requires careful consideration when managing potential side effects. Specifically, pain can negatively affect the course of the treatment and patient quality of life. In addition to the traditional drug therapy, few studies have reported on the utility of integrative interventions in managing side effects experienced by HSCT patients. Also, these studies have examined the mind-body therapies role such as therapeutic music video; distraction; relaxation, ignoring the possible role of therapies related to the energy field to help patients to cope with the disease and its effects.
Reiki is a growing complementary therapy in pediatric oncology that needs evidence to become more credible among the health community.
Results of a study called Zucchetti et al, provide preliminary evidence that the effectiveness of Reiki therapy sessions on the pain of children was different at each time point considered. The Reiki sessions were effective in the short-term relief, decreasing the severity of pain. In the medium-term, the Reiki sessions were able to influence the pain progress, maintaining the same level of pain reduced after the Reiki session until the day after. Therefore, these results underline that there were three distinct moments of pain progress during the day of the Reiki session of our sample. A first moment of spontaneous pain increase during the morning, a second moment of significant pain relief, after the
Reiki session, with a relevant pain decrease and a third moment of pain maintenance, in which the intensity of pain did not get worse until the morning after the Reiki therapy day. Instead, no long-term effects were found suggesting that the Reiki session was not able to provide relief from the pain for a long period.
The maintenance of a low level of pain in the medium term suggests an interesting potentiality of the therapy, bringing the children to maintain, probably, a satisfactory level of well-being for the hours after the Reiki session. The absence of long-term effect is not surprising: the characteristics of the sessions were not consistent with this kind of duration of pain relief.
This is the first pilot study that verified the effects of Reiki on the pain of pediatric cancer patients undergoing HSCT revealing that Reiki is an acceptable and feasible therapy that can be used with good effects to decrease pain especially during the inpatient period of HSCT. It is effective in the immediate reduction of pain and probably its benefits last for many hours. In addition to pharmacological pain
management, it can be an effective, nonintrusive and complete strategy for the pain relief of children who are pediatric cancer patients.
However, other studies could explore the effect of Reiki therapy on the pharmacological pain
medications use among children undergoing HSCT both in terms of rate and drug intensity.