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Massage Today
July, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 07

Symposium Sets Stage for Massage Growth

By Editorial Staff

The Canadian Touch Research Institute (CTRC) hosted the second International Symposium on the Science of Touch (ISST), May 12-15, 2004, in Montreal. This event joined presenters, provocateurs and participants from around the globe to strengthen the basis of an international research network and information database in the field of touch.

The symposium provided enhanced continuing education opportunities for therapists, and well met its goal of fostering greater professional and financial success for participants.

Speaking about the symposium, ISST Chairman Réal Gaboriault, PhD, said, "This year, we have tried to relay...our passion for building a better world, without violence, where an understanding of our own self and that of others is reached, in at least some of its forms, by the means of touch. To this end, the theme of this year's symposium, 'Towards an Integrative Medicine,' puts the patient ever more at the core of our concerns."

A closed-panel discussion on integrative medicine preceded the symposium opening. Pioneers of integrative medicine from Canada, the U.S., India and Sweden were invited to highlight the results that stimulate them to pursue their work, as well as discuss their personal visions of the medicine of tomorrow.

Symposium presenters and participants were primarily from North America; however, presenters also came from Great Britain, Sweden, India, France, Australia and Korea. Many of the presentations required the use of interpreters, and participants wearing headphones were a common sight, which underscored the truly international nature of the event.

Of the 60-plus presenters, those from the U.S. included Harvard's David Eisenberg, MD, who spoke on "Evolving Models of Integrative Care: 'Be Careful What You Wish For,'" wherein he described the growth of alternative therapies and explored how collaborative teams of conventional and complementary providers could be trained and organized to deliver care superior to that offered by individual practitioners. He asked attendees if they thought they could be functionally "integrated" into mainstream health care delivery systems without being significantly constrained, diminished or co-opted.

Other U.S. presenters:

Tiffany Field, PhD - presented new studies at the Touch Research Institute, which continues to support the efficacy of massage therapy for a wide range of clinical applications, including the facilitation of growth and development; stress, pain, depression and autoimmune disorder reduction; and enhancing immune function;

John Upledger, DO, OMM - addressed the effects of CranioSacral Therapy on post- traumatic stress disorder symptomatology in Vietnam combat veterans, and a program for children to enhance compassion and self-esteem and to reduce violence;

Janet Kahn, PhD - led a panel discussion on governments' contributions to massage research;

Erik Dalton, PhD - presented results from ongoing studies of sensory receptors that led many researchers to conclude that soft tissues (ligaments, fasciae, discs and joint capsules - previously thought of as purely mechanical structures) are innervated and participate in active balancing of the spine;

Helene Langevin, MD - discussed research exploring the relationship between connective tissue and acupuncture meridians, which may be a key to explaining traditional Chinese medicine concepts such as qi, blockage of qi, and restoration of qi flow;

Tom Myers, LMT - presented "Anatomy Trains - Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists";

Don Ash, PT, CST-D - explored how to integrate CranioSacral Therapy into other compassionate touch practices and protocols;

David Dolan, LMT - demonstrated ocean therapy, which combines the healing aspects of the ocean environment, multi-hand group therapy and intuitive use of intention;

Dan Cherkin, PhD - spoke about a randomized trial evaluating the effectiveness of massage for chronic low back pain;

Cynthia Price, MA - studied and presented "The Efficacy and Process of Body-oriented Therapy Compared to Massage";

Maria Turk, LMT - spoke about "The Essentials of Operating a Medical Massage Clinic";

Mary Kay Brennan, MS, RN, LMBT - presented her study findings on "The Effect of Chair Massage on Stress Perception of Hospital Bedside Nurses";

Aaron Mattes, LMT, NCTMB - introduced "The Mattes Method of Active Isolated Stretching";

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB - taught attendees how to effectively and safely use soft tissue techniques on the anterior throat;

George Kousaleos, LMT, NCTMB - demonstrated and discussed CORE Myofascial Therapy;

Roderic Gorney, MD, PhD - explored the need for touch in the lives of adults and how further research on this vital factor may be important in the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease;

John Triano, DC, PhD - addressed the design of research control groups for studies involving touch;

Cynthia Ribeiro, LMT - taught how to restore proper neuromuscular function to the respiratory system through the application of trigger point therapy;

Elaine Stillerman, LMT - taught "Mother Massage: Massage During Pregnancy," which reviewed the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy and precautions of prenatal massage;

Sharon Giammatteo, Ph.D., PT, LMT - discussed the use of advanced strain and counterstrain techniques to decrease tension of lymph nodes and improve immune function; and

Tracy Walton, MS, LMT - reviewed suggested consultation and training for massage therapy professionals, schools and hospitals for working with people diagnosed with cancer.

Research and education presentations were nicely broken up with social functions designed to let people from all nations network and enjoy their differences and similarities. The ISST proved extremely valuable for massage practitioners.

The third ISST is scheduled to convene in 2006 for the first time in the United States. (Location to be determined.) Look to Massage Today for future updates or visit the Canadian Touch Research Institute's Web site at


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