resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
June, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 06
Medical Conditions in Massage Practice: Intake Forms and Questions, Part I
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
Whether massage therapists call it "medical" massage, "therapeutic" massage, or "relaxation" massage, we work with people with many complex medical conditions. No matter which setting we work in - spa, private practice, sports or medical settings - we see a range of health conditions that ask us to investigate appropriate contraindications.
In this three-part series, I'd like to offer my thoughts on interviewing for those contraindications.The purpose of this series is twofold: to support therapists in their work with people and to invite dialogue in the field. I'll begin this installment with observations of the intake process for massage therapists then offer a sample question for the health history. Each subsequent article will feature one or more health history questions and ideas for how to use the client's answers.
In my work with therapists with different backgrounds and working in different settings, I've discovered a common theme: most are much more comfortable providing the massage than interviewing clients for contraindications. When I ask why this is, most tell me the language of their hands is their chosen language. After using my hands for 15 years in massage practice, I must agree. My hands engage in wordless, soundless and sometimes sacred exchanges with clients. The interview, in contrast, can seem like mere business.
But massage therapists tell me there's more to this than a simple preference for hands-on work; most say they did not get solid schooling in conducting an intake interview. The most acute gap for many of them is in interviewing for medical history. Fifteen years ago when I graduated from massage school, we could purchase commercially available, preprinted health history forms for massage therapy. I remember them on heavy paper, four pages, lists of medical questions, and questions about diet and nutrition, all very comprehensive. I suspect the form was borrowed from a medical setting, as many of the questions were way out of the scope of the average massage therapist. Still, seeing little else in the massage literature, I dutifully purchased a stack of them to begin my practice.
There was a small problem with this approach: I had not the slightest idea how to use them. I knew how to ask the battery of questions on the form, but I didn't know what to do with the answers. How would it change my massage to know that my client followed a certain diet, that he drank four to six alcoholic beverages per week, that she had had most of the common childhood diseases, that there was a family history of heart disease? In a nostalgic mood recently, I dug the form out of cold storage and marveled at its length. I can't believe I got through so many interviews without being asked, "Why are you asking me this?" before I switched to designing my own intake forms.
Mind you, I had graduated from a strong, two-year massage therapy program with many hours of training in hands-on work, communication skills and the sciences. The profession shared my interviewing uncertainty. In 1990, literature about massage contraindications was scarce. We had little shared understanding of what we had to know to massage safely, and a few alarmist stories about someone who had done something in a session somewhere and the client got sick afterward. We relied on this lore in the field, a very basic understanding of the body, and our wits to keep our clients safe and ourselves out of trouble.
Changes in the profession have made it much easier to identify client problems that we need to act on, avoid or treat with caution. Ruth Werner took our uncertainty in stride and produced A Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology1 the first widely available text from which we could finally draw some links between health conditions and massage contraindications. Many other useful texts appeared as well, including books on medications and massage,2,3 other rich pathology texts, and even some texts for massage specialties, such as massage in the hospital setting.4 Articles are appearing on work with a wide range of clients. Together we're getting our feet under us about individualizing massage for clients in all states of health. Together we're figuring out the information we need to practice safely.
But we still need to work on how we gather that information without interviewing the client all afternoon. What is important to ask about a client's health? And, more importantly, how do we use their answers in massage design? How do we find out what we need to know in a brief interview format? How do we follow-up on clients' answers?
I have designed intake forms for my own practice, a massage school with a large clinic, and a training setting where we run one-time clinics for clients with cancer-with some medically complex individuals. I have seen countless intake forms in the literature and at the schools I visit. There are some basic, all-purpose questions that bear asking. In this series of articles I will focus on a few of them: "What is your activity level and the kinds of movement you do during the week," "Are you taking any medications," and "Are you currently in a physician's care?" I will also propose how to use our client's answers to these questions.
What is your activity level? What are the types of activities you engage in during the week?
This question often elicits a guilt response: "I should be going to the gym more"; "I'm afraid I'm something of a couch potato"; or "I'm at a desk all day." But it still can lead to valuable information for massage therapy. First, it can lead to tension patterns produced by a client's activities. This conversation can go a number of useful places. Chronic telephone use: which ear? Chronic neck and shoulder tension on that side. Massage with focus on the neck, attachments at the occiput, shoulders and lateral pecs. Massage therapists know where to find these tension patterns and ease them. Questions like this provide an early tip-off to where the session might go.
Questioning about activity and movement can be helpful in other ways, too. For an elderly client, one with a systemic illness or in strong medical treatment, the activity level can help a therapist assess how well the client can tolerate massage. For example, in general, it is important to work conservatively with people in cancer treatment, starting with gentler work. It may be advisable to introduce stronger massage in small increments over weeks of monitoring the client's response. The activity level of the client can help you assess where to start and when to add increments.
One client in her late forties has been in ongoing treatment for metastatic breast cancer for several years. She has been building a deck, clearing her land, cycling long distances. Another client has pancreatic cancer and is in strong chemotherapy. She is 83, and beginning to find the stairway to my office a challenge. Both require specific massage adjustments to their treatments for complications such as lymphedema risk, bone metastasis, and several other factors. But the first client, after taking those into account, may tolerate a reasonably vigorous massage and benefit from it.
The second, older client, clearly weakened by complications of her disease and in strong treatment, requires a gentler session. Tolerance of exercise can be used in assessing tolerance of massage therapy. Activity levels provide useful data for the massage therapist who can then change the length of the session, the pressure used, or even how gently or vigorously to stretch or range a joint in a session. A more customized session is then possible, rather than a single protocol for a client who checks "yes" in response to the question about cancer history.
The activity level and the types of activities are useful information for the massage therapist. Answers to these questions can provide key information quickly. This is especially important in high-volume massage settings with limited time for interviewing and documentation. Interviewing has its challenges, but we've come a long way from preprinted forms and our empty, uncertain use of them. As the profession continues to develop and we share more information with each other, the process of interviewing will become clearer and easier for us all.
Editor's note: Look for part two of Tracy's series in the July 2005 issue.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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