MEDICAL MASSAGE Targeted Therapy for Specific Ills
MaryRose Denton, center, works with students at her massage school.
by MaryRose Denton, LMP
t is a normal work day, going along at a normal pace for a Friday afternoon, when my final patient of the day arrives. She walks a little stiffly and slowly into my treatment room, and as she sets her belongings down on the bench, I ask her how she is doing. We talk a minute about her pain levels and activities of daily living, and then there is a pause, as she looks over at me, she says “You know, without massage therapy, I don’t think I would have healed as fast or walk as well as I am today. I certainly have more flexibility and range of motion.” For several sessions, this patient and I have worked together after she was sent to me by her physician, following two hip surgeries. Massage therapy was prescribed to assist with her rehabilitation and help her return to her regular daily activities. While this story is particular to her case, it is becoming more and more common for patients to be referred for massage therapy by their physicians. In part, this is due to what is known as Medical Massage. Described as outcome-based massage using “specific treatments targeted to specific problems the patient presents,” (Wikipedia), medical massage typically follows a diagnosis of a particular pathology, like chronic pain. Treatments start with an assessment by the therapist. Treatments can vary and include an array of different approach-
es, with the goal of reaching a positive outcome. In some instances, such as debilitating chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s Disease or undergoing chemotherapy, full body therapeutic massage can be an appropriate treatment for pain reduction and an overall increase to wellness, and can be prescribed by a physician. Each massage session, whether medical massage or therapeutic or wellness massage, is created from the education, expertise, and communication between therapist and patient. There are standard educational requirements a licensed massage therapist must meet, involving extensive knowledge in kinesiology, anatomy, and pathology, as well as hands-on clinical experience.
In addition, therapists participate in continuing education classes to further their training and keep up to date on current topics and issues in the field. Many of these trainings teach techniques specific to and provide certifications for medical massage. The massage profession has experienced much growth in the last twenty five years I have been in practice, especially in the area of complementary medicine. We, as a massage community, continue to gain the respect of the medical field by demonstrating the efficacy of massage when treating musculoskeletal and pain related conditions. As a massage educator, as well as a massage therapist in private practice, I am excited to see what the next generation of massage therapists will bring to the table. MaryRose Denton, LMP maintains a private practice and is the owner and director of Denton Massage School, LLC , both located in Arlington , WA. Contact her at MaryRose@dentonmassage.net.
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