resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
August, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 08
Working with Clients Who Have Cerebral Palsy
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
In my last article, I discussed the special challenges of working with clients who have survived spinal cord injuries. I had been surprised at how little input I got before I prepared that piece, and I have likewise been surprised (happily) at how much feedback I got afterward - from both massage therapists and SCI survivors (and in one case, a person who is both).Here are some examples:
I want to extend my thanks to all the people who responded to my article. It certainly seems clear that many massage therapists feel they need more education on working with clients with a wide variety of CNS dysfunction.
This month, I have chosen to focus on another type of CNS disorder: cerebral palsy. As usual, I will review some of the technical information about what manifests this set of signs and symptoms; then I will discuss some of the special issues this disorder raises in the context of bodywork.
Cerebral Palsy: What Is It?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term that refers to many possible injuries to the brain during gestational development, birth, and early infancy. Several different types of CP have been identified, each involving damage to different parts of the brain.
The incidence of CP in the United States is two to four out of every 1,000 live births. Around half a million CP patients live in the U.S. today. In spite of improved prenatal care, the rate of CP in the U.S. has remained unchanged for many years.
Etiology: What Happens?
Cerebral palsy is the result of brain damage, usually to motor areas of the brain, specifically the basal ganglia and/or cerebellum. The damage can be brought about in a number of ways.
Regardless of the cause of brain damage, the child with cerebral palsy will have some impairment of function. The problem could be so minor that only people who know what to look for may see it, or it may be completely debilitating both physically and mentally; it all depends on what part and how much of the brain has been affected.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
CP is classified into four types: spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed.
CP may also be classified by what part of the body is affected. These terms are consistent with those used for other CNS disorders: hemiplegic CP means the left or right side is affected; diplegic CP means either two arms or two legs are affected; and quadriplegic CP means all the extremities are affected to some extent.
Types of CP may come and go, or change entirely from one kind to another, as the child grows. CP is not a progressive disorder, however, and if symptoms seem to be getting significantly worse over time, a different kind of CNS dysfunction must be considered.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of CP vary according to the location and extent of brain injury. Damage to the cerebellum produces different symptoms from damage to the frontal lobe, for instance. But some of the most common features of CP include hypertonicity; hypotonicity; poor coordination and voluntary muscle control; unusually weak muscles; random movements; seizure disorders; early hearing and/or vision problems; and progressive muscle contractures. About half of all CP patients have some level of mental retardation, and many are unable to communicate verbally.
Because infants don't develop voluntary motor skills until they are around six months old, CP may be difficult to diagnose earlier than this point.
CP is incurable and irreversible; as such, it is managed, rather than treated, by providing skills and equipment to live as fully and functionally as possible. For some CP patients this could mean using a brace for one foot that is slightly weaker than the other; for others it could mean intensive occupational, physical, and speech therapy for many years.
Medication for CP is occasionally prescribed to help manage seizures, and to reduce muscle spasm. Some surgical interventions have been developed to lengthen contracted muscles, to realign vertebrae that have become distorted by scoliosis, and to alter nerve pathways in the brain to reduce the severity of tremors.
Physical therapy is recommended for people with CP because the process of developing muscle contractures is slow and can be made even slower when muscles and joints are specifically stretched and manipulated to maintain flexibility. Patients may also be encouraged to use and strengthen their weaker limbs. It is important to note the many uses and benefits physical therapy has to offer CP patients, because massage therapy may also be a valuable adjunct in these cases.
What about Massage?
There is no question that massage therapy can have a valuable role in improving the quality of life of a person with CP. Unlike many CNS disorders, a lot of information about bodywork for CP patients is easily available; I'll list some wonderful sources at the end of this article. Nonetheless, these clients require some special adjustments in the way bodywork is administered, and I've had several letters from massage therapists who would like to feel their work is more effective with this population.
The damage for a person who has CP does not begin in the muscle and connective tissues. Although this is where we feel the tightening of the connective tissue wrappings around muscles, the contractures themselves are simply a symptom-a complication of a problem deep in the brain. Therefore, if all we try to do is lengthen the muscles and stretch the fascia, we will run smack into a brick wall: either no progress will happed at all, or symptoms may even be temporarily exacerbated. Most people with CP get best results if bodywork focuses on indirectly affecting muscle tone through craniosacral work, gentle rocking, slow range of motion exercises, and manipulation of the arms and legs that engages the client in ways he or she doesn't automatically resist-this often means going with the direction of muscle shortening in order to disengage the reflex. Ultimately, the therapist will have to experiment with lots of different approaches, often accompanied by extremely supportive bolstering, in order to find what techniques allow their clients to relax and enjoy their massage.
The benefits of massage to CP patients are undeniable. Parents write of their satisfaction when their child is able to sleep through the night, when postural distortions unbind, when breathing eases, when faces light up with joy because the massage therapist has arrived for a session. Imagine a child who is the object of vast numbers of painful, intrusive, unpleasant, dehumanizing medical procedures (regardless of the supportive intentions behind them). This child is handled rather than touched. Then his massage therapist arrives and arranges him carefully among pillows and bolsters on the table. She cradles his occiput and straightens his neck so he can breathe more easily. She rocks his arms and legs until their tension eases. She plays with his fingers until he realizes he can move them in lots of directions. Nothing she does hurts. What a gift, what a privilege to be invited into such a relationship!
If physical therapy is used to stretch and strengthen skeletal muscles, massage will also be a safe choice. The only caution is that people with very severe CP may not be able to communicate their wants or concerns clearly. If a massage therapist works with a client who cannot speak, other modes of communication, including nonverbal signals, become especially important. It is the responsibility of the massage therapist to make sure that his or her work is welcome and freely accepted at all times.
Our culture harbors a fear of people who look, or sound, or act differently from ourselves. Seeing or being with someone with CP can raise all kinds of fears or judgments that we never realized were there. Maybe this person can't speak, or drools, or walks funny, or doesn't walk at all. Speaking for myself, I will share that it's especially hard for me to deal with disabilities when they occur in children. And yet, here is a population that so needs the work we do! As long as basic common-sense precautions are respected (don't overwork numb areas, be sensitive to nonverbal communications, if anything you do makes symptoms worse then stop and try something else) massage can be a central coping mechanism for a child or adult with CP.
I am hopeful that any readers who have the opportunity to work with clients who have CP will feel more confident to do so. I am especially delighted to share some valuable resources that help me put together the parts of this article about bodywork:
For my next column, I'm going to offer readers a choice. I've had requests for articles on these topics:
So, what do you want to have discussed next in What's On Your Table?
Ruth Werner, LMT, NCTMB
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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