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Massage Today
August, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 08

Massage Takes Center Stage in Montreal

Research Is Hot Topic at International Touch Symposium

By Editorial Staff

The Université du Québec in Montreal hosted the first International Symposium on the Science of Touch (ISST), May 16-18, 2002.

The event featured 300 participants, 57 speakers, 61 sessions and 20 exhibitors representing more than a dozen countries.

The symposium was sponsored by the Canadian Touch Research Center (CTRC). The center's director, Marcus Wenner, PhD, said the event was conceived to "... bring together leaders in touch research and practice so as to catalyze scientific understanding of the medical and sociological effects of touch, and to spread awareness of its effects throughout the medical, scientific and political communities, such that an ease and understanding of touch permeates to the general population."

Four distinguished keynote speakers discussed various issues in massage and touch therapy:

  • Tiffany Field, PhD, founder of the Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida, updated attendees on recent research in massage.
  • David Eisenberg, MD, from Harvard Medical School (and author of several significant published research studies on complementary and alternative medicine) shared his "dream" of a multidisciplinary health care team comprised of medical doctors, psychologists, and alternative care practitioners, including massage therapists.
  • Jean Drouin, MD, president of the Québec Association of Holistic Health, reviewed the history of ancient medicines, emphasizing the value of the hands as healing instruments and diagnostic sensors.
  • Janet Kahn, PhD, former president of the American Masssage Therapy Association (AMTA) Foundation and now a senior partner with Integrative Consulting, provided an overview of present and future issues in touch therapy.

Daniel Turcotte, Robert Calvert, Dr. Real Gaboriault, Dr. David Eisenberg, Dr. Janet Kahn, Sylvain Magnan, and Dr. Marcus Wenner. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Daniel Turcotte, ISST vice president; Robert Calvert, CEO, Massage Magazine; Dr. Real Gaboriault, ISST chairman; Dr. David Eisenberg, Harvard Medical School; Dr. Janet Kahn, CEO, Integrative Consultants; Sylvain Magnan, secretary treasurer, ISST; Dr. Marcus Wenner, director, CTRC. "The first International Symposium on the Science of Touch has brought together an important delegation of experts in the field of touch in general, and massage therapy in particular," enthused CTRC President and ISST Chairman Réal Gaboriault, PhD.

Themes of the symposium, reflected in the workshops and presentations, included research in massage therapy; research and clinical practice; techniques (sports massage; infant and child massage; massage for the cancer patient, etc.); and the status of the profession. The symposium concluded with a roundtable discussion that focused on the future of research in massage therapy and how to capitalize on networking opportunities. Along with many of the aforementioned symposium participants, the discussion included Massage Today columnist Ben Benjamin, PhD and Massage Magazine founder Robert Calvert.

The CTRC is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1997. According to Dr. Gaboriault, the organization's primary purpose is to increase knowledge in the field of massage therapy and related touch techniques, particularly through the scientific evaluation of the effects of touch on the nervous, hormonal and immune systems and the relief of pain, muscular tension and stress. The second International Symposium on the Science of Touch is scheduled for May 13-15, 2004 in Montreal.


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