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Massage Today
May, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 05

More Research, Please!

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

In the last month, I've attended two conferences that were of special interest to me: One was specifically for massage therapists (the AMTA New England Regional Conference in Boxborough, Mass.); the other for physicians and clinicians desiring information on the world of integrative medicine (the First Annual Integrative Medicine Conference & Natural Healthcare Expo in Miami, Fla.).

The primary purposes of these two conferences were similar, even though they were designed for different audiences. Both allowed attendees to meet continuing education requirements, and both offered attendees opportunities to network among themselves, and with suppliers of goods and services supportive of their respective fields.

The Integrative Medicine Conference provided health care practitioners with practical information about the integration of conventional and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Americans spend in excess of $10 billion annually on herbal and dietary supplements, frequently without the guidance of a health care professional or awareness of the potential for interactions with conventional therapies. This conference provided information on how and when to use the best of conventional and natural interventions, how to use therapies synergistically, and how to recognize and avoid interactions for common diseases. It further provided information on the safety and quality of herbs and botanicals.

For those who don't regularly take advantage of the many massage and/or health related conferences around the country, most conferences include a health expo or exhibit hall that gives attendees access to new developments in the field, and opportunities to purchase items necessary or beneficial to their practices. If "follow the money" is an indicator of where trends in health care are taking us, CAM is following the path of conventional Western medicine and relying on pills to solve health deficiencies. The integrative medicine conference had almost no presence of manual therapies in its health expo. A booth taken by a massage school was the only indication I saw that manual therapies might be thought of to benefit clinicians, and one of only a handful not staffed by purveyors of some type of nutriceutical.

We all know that the public use of massage therapy is one of the highest percentages of CAM therapies. My recent observation from this conference, however, did not bear out that conventional health care practitioners, even those supportive of CAM therapies, find it necessary to learn about or recommend our services. If we were to target an area for us to educate others, it appears that those physicians open to integrative medicine should be high on our list. Judging from the number of attendees interested in participating in CAM dialogues, this is likely to be an ever-increasing source of referrals if we can make the efficacy of massage known to them.

Let's all support more massage research - it's what physicians use to make referrals. It's important for the success of us all to continue to publish findings that will surely show massage therapists as ready and able to be part of a professional care-giving team.

Thanks for listening!

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605

Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.


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