resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
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.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
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.
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.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
March, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 03
Working with Multiple Sclerosis Patients
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
You've done it again: I put out a request for input, and you came through in a big way. December's article on central nervous system dysfunction seemed to hit a cord with many therapists, so for the next couple of columns I will respond as best I can.(Editor's note: Ruth's December 2001 article is available on line at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/12/16.html.)
Although I had feedback on several issues related to central nervous system disorders, the majority of respondents requested information on multiple sclerosis (MS). This is a mysterious disorder; its population distribution is unusual, its progression is unpredictable, and its diagnosis is often a particular challenge. Patients with MS can benefit greatly from carefully managed massage, however, and most therapists probably have some clients who live with this disease.
This article will provide some brief information about how this disease develops and whom it affects, followed by a discussion of how various types of bodywork might and might not fit into the picture.
MS: who gets it? The highest incidence of MS is among Caucasian people who live in Northern or extreme Southern latitudes, or who lived there for the first 15 years of life. It is generally diagnosed in patients somewhere between 20 and 40 years old. Women are diagnosed with the disease approximately twice as frequently as men. It affects about 300 thousand Americans, with about nine thousand new diagnoses each year.
MS: what happens in the body? MS often works in cycles of inflammatory "flares" followed by periods of remission. During flares the myelin is damaged, probably by specific types of white blood cells, and is replaced by scar tissue. MS usually affects the optic nerve, brain stem, cerebellum, and spinal cord. During remission, inflammation subsides, and some regeneration of myelin may occur. In this way, MS patients may lose some neurological function during flares, but regain some or all of it during remission. The cause or causes of MS remain a mystery. Leading theories suggest that a combination of factors is at work: exposure to some pathogen that stimulates an ongoing immune system attack, environmental factors, and genetic predisposition may all be part of the picture. At this point no specific genetic, environmental, or pathogenic factors can reliably predict the incidence of multiple sclerosis.
MS: what does it look like? This disease is sometimes called The Great Imitator because its initial symptoms can look like a variety of other diseases, depending on what area of nerve tissue has been affected. The order with which symptoms appear also varies greatly from one person to the next. Some of the most dependable signs and symptoms include:
MS: how does it progress? The progression of MS is highly unpredictable. It has a few characteristic patterns, but some patients move from one pattern type to others within their disease process. Some of the basic patterns are as follows:
MS may also present as a combination of the R/R and P/P varieties.
MS is not a terminal disease in and of itself. MS sufferers generally have a lifespan about six years shorter than the average, although that statistic may improve as new medications prolong the time between flares and limit central nervous system damage. People who die prematurely from MS are usually immobile, and they fall prey to an opportunistic disease such as a kidney infection, urinary tract infection or pneumonia.
MS: what about massage? This is where it gets interesting. I've received letters from some people asking, "what do I do for this type or that...?" and letters from others saying, "I've had success with this approach..." I couldn't be happier to put all of this information together here in this article.
First of all, let me offer some words of warning. In its acute, or "flare" stage, MS is an inflammatory condition. True, the inflammation is happening in the CNS where we don't have access, but the general rule for massage and acute inflammation is to let it pass.
During an MS exacerbation, the body has a lot of activity to process. In my opinion (and absolutely anyone is invited to disagree), I think it's a better idea to let the dust settle before adding any more input in the form of massage. Some varieties of energetic work may be appropriate during MS flares, as long as the process is respected and the client is not overwhelmed or overchallenged by the stimulus being supplied.
During remission, however, we have a different story. The level of function a person achieves during remission depends on the severity of the flare, and how deeply the myelin was affected. If it was only a superficial attack, the damaged myelin may grow back and no permanent changes may occur. If it was a more intrusive flare, however, some amount of permanent damage may accrue to the nerve tissue, resulting in muscle weakness, sensory changes including parasthesia ("pins and needles"), or even complete numbness. This is where massage (as well as other therapeutic modalities) may have a profoundly positive impact. While we generally say, "if a client can't feel it, we shouldn't try to change it," some massage therapists have found that working deeply and specifically on the antagonistic muscle groups of isolated numb or weak muscles of MS clients yields exciting results.
Here is what one therapist (Jim McFarland of Virginia) has found:
Another reader, Michael Eisenberg of Washington State shared with me that Thai massage, which he describes as being just as beneficial to give as it is to receive, has helped him to manage his own MS:
And yet another reader has a client with very advanced MS who has lost most of the function in his legs. This is what she has to say:
All of these wonderful stories point in the same direction: massage has a lot to offer clients who live with MS, as long as some basic principles are kept in mind: avoid mechanical or manipulative work during periods of flare; respect numbness; only work deeply where the client has sensation; and monitor your results carefully so that you can continue to make positive choices for your client's needs.
Readers who are interested in learning more about MS, either for themselves or for their clients, would do well to visit this website: www.mic.ki.se/Diseases/. This site has an extensive list of recent articles on just about any disease you could think of. MS is listed under Neurological Diseases as a demyelinating disease.
In next month's article, I plan to discuss another aspect of CNS dysfunction: working with spinal cord injury survivors. I've had several questions from readers about "do's" and "don'ts" for these clients; what advice do you have for massage therapists?
Ruth Werner, LMT, NCTMB
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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