Occupational Therapy Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy

Copyright Statement

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.


College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

First Advisor

Sonia Kay

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


The purpose of this study was to examine whether mother-administered moderate pressure massage intervention could improve self-regulation, which would result in improvements in play outcomes. It was posited that a child who is self-regulated may be more successful in his/her play and that moderate pressure massage could be an effective tool to improve self-regulation in preterm infants with decreased self-regulation. Participants in the study were five preterm children ranging from 12 to 18 months corrected age and their mothers. The study utilized an A-B nonconcurrent multiple baselines across subjects design in which each participant acted as his/her own control as well as a pretesting and posttesting component with objective measures. Baselines were of varying lengths, ranging from 3 to 7 weeks. Intervention of mother-administered massage was 6 weeks long for all participants. Three objective standardized measures were used in pretesting and posttesting. These measures included the Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment to measure self-regulation, the Revised Knox Preschool Play Scale to measure play age, and the Test of Playfulness to measure playfulness. Visual analogue scales, with mother generated behavioral goals related to the three standardized assessments, were scored weekly by the mothers. The results indicated that moderate pressure massage had a calming and regulating effect on the child and resulted in improvements in the child’s play skills and playfulness over the course of the 6 weeks of intervention. The important clinical implications are that this cost-effective, parent-administered technique can positively affect outcomes of improved self-regulation, playfulness, and play skills. In addition, the study contributes important information about the influence of self-regulation on the development of play and playfulness in preterm babies and on mothers’ participation in their baby’s intervention, which contributes to a family-centered approach.


Occupational Therapy


Health and environmental sciences, Massage, Play, Preterm infants, Self-regulation

  Link to NovaCat