resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
June, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 06
Defining Medical Massage
By James Waslaski
I disagree with the segment recently shown on national television claiming that massage can cause more harm than good ("Setting the Records Straight: Massage Gets a Bad Rap in National Report," www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/06/02.html).Statements like these are usually based on turf wars in the health care profession. If there were substantial truth to these accusations, I would not be traveling 40 weekends a year teaching orthopedic massage!
My first article, "Medical Massage vs. Orthopedic Massage" (Feb. 2004, www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/02/03.html), was intended to bring leaders of advanced massage disciplines together to create a unified definition of "medical" massage; now, it has become a mission to set a unified standard for medical massage "certification."
The best short definition I gathered from medical massage therapists is: "Medical massage is performed with the intent of improving conditions or pathologies that have been diagnosed by a physician; a wide variety of modalities or procedures are utilized to focus the treatment based on the diagnosed condition." I was determined to prove that advanced disciplines, such as neuromuscular therapy, CranioSacral Therapy (CST), myofascial release, lymphatic drainage, massage for cancer patients, orthopedic massage, etc., fall under medical massage disciplines, and certification in many of these disciplines usually requires a minimum of 100 hours of training.
Interestingly, when I teach orthopedic massage, it is a blend of many of these disciplines, and I believe that orthopedic massage is an advanced discipline of medical massage. It involves therapeutic assessment, manipulation, and movement of the locomotor soft tissues to reduce or eliminate pain or dysfunction. A unique multidisciplinary approach is utilized to restore structural balance throughout the body, which allows focus on prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal dysfunctions, chronic pain and sports injuries. Primary modalities include functional assessment, myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy, scar tissue mobilization techniques, neuromuscular re-education, PNF stretching, strengthening, and specific client home-care protocols.
I encourage participants to be cross-trained in as many advanced disciplines as possible, and constantly research which discipline works best in each particular situation. I firmly believe that disciplines such as lymphatic drainage, CST, myoskeletal alignment, energy work,etc., may be better modalities than orthopedic massage for a percentage of patients; therefore, they are a critical part of the toolbox for elite-level medical massage practitioners.
Still, I question whether fewer than 100 hours of medical massage training without an internship and written and practical exam, can properly prepare therapists for the vast array of medical complications that could be made worse by improperly applied massage. For example, one massage instructor recently challenged my February article claiming that a patient with an aneurysm (like that of my mother) would be pale and too weak to get onto the massage table. My mother's aneurysm was leaking and ready to burst, but she did not have pale skin, diaphoresis or weakness. Other than slight kidney pain (often diagnosed as back pain) and small traces of blood in her urine, she had no other symptoms. Some therapists do not complete a thorough medical history, which is why an internship and direct medical training with a doctor is beneficial. In Canada, for example, many therapists spend two years in a hospital setting, following 2,000 hours of initial massage training to intern in neurology, cardiac physiology, etc.
I am blessed to be able to teach with some of the leading educators in the industry. Most recently, I taught with Dr. Erik Dalton (the founder of Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques) in Costa Rica, and was impressed with the emphasis he placed on assessing the cervical spine prior to beginning any treatments. He is highly concerned about the possibility of compromising the vertebral arteries during therapy and about pressing into the soft spot at the base of the skull when treating the suboccipital muscles. In another seminar, Dr. Dalton and I taught together with David Kent, a specialist in neuromuscular therapy and practice-building. He also emphasized the same precautions, as well as the importance of conducting a thorough assessment prior to treatment. He also stressed the need to refer some patients out to avoid complications from certain treatment protocols.
I am determined to point out those educators that mislead students into taking their courses, stating they will "certify" therapists in medical massage in as few as three days. One Texas chiropractor claims to grant a "certification" in medical massage if you take his six-hour continuing education course. Is it ethical to give a certification without a unified examination? Many of the therapists entering these courses have as few as 300 hours of massage training, with no medical background; most have only 500 hours of massage training. I think the word "certification" is misleading. I do not think a massage therapist with little medical background and training should be certified in medical massage without an intense clinical internship, or at least proof that the therapist can competently perform the skills he or she has learned.
I do not certify anyone in orthopedic massage for this exact reason; in fact, I am waiting for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) to create "advanced certification" in massage before I set the standards to certify people in orthopedic massage. Then I will require a written and practical exam, and at least one year of experience in treating orthopedic conditions, prior to granting orthopedic massage certification.
Sure, I could probably sell more courses if I told people they would be "certified" after two weekends and a five-day intensive course. But we need to attest to the competency of the learned skills of our students to avoid complications when new therapists apply advanced skills. There are so many incredible advanced disciplines that we see as specialties of medical massage. I know many of those specialties usually require a minimum of 100 hours to be recognized as practitioners of that work. People excel much faster in seminars if they are already certified in other disciplines. But only a small percentage of our students come into the advanced courses with adequate prior training.
I look back on my many years in a hospital setting as a gift to what I now bring to orthopedic massage. It is also the reason I reference medical massage, but do not generically call my work "medical massage". Little did I know how valuable that type of hands-on learning would be in professional debates within the industry.
My intense medical background tells me we may be in a danger zone, unless we come together as a profession, clearly define medical massage and determine how it relates to the many advanced disciplines in our rapidly advancing profession. This will lead to a unified standard in our industry, and consistency among the true experts in the various advanced disciplines of massage. Then we can finally have a true certification in medical massage, and it will attest to the competency of those well-deserved advanced therapists.
Click here for more information about James Waslaski.
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