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.
June, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 06
Massage Therapist Overcomes Long Odds: "You Have to Play the Hand that is Dealt to You"
By Michael Tisdale
Editor's note: A few months ago, Michael A. Tisdale contacted Massage Today about the launch of The Universal Hands of Vision (UHOV), an online Yahoo! discussion group where blind and visually impaired massage therapists can exchange ideas and experiences, and share solutions to challenges (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/UHOV).We asked Michael to share his experiences and the challenges he faces as a visually impaired massage therapist with our readers.
When working on a client, do you ever close your eyes to focus on your palpation? If you don't, you might want to try it one day. In fact, you might want to try doing an entire session blindfolded, which is sort of like what I do all the time: I have been legally blind since birth and have lost most of my sight in the past few years.
Although we may not like it, sometimes there are things you can't do anything about. My blindness is one of those things. In my 52 years, I have developed "work arounds" for things that sighted people may take for granted. Have you ever thought about how you would squeeze toothpaste onto your toothbrush without being able to see when you had enough, or if it is even coming out of the tube? Try it. The results can be quite funny sometimes. Then there is that guy issue of aiming - you know what I mean. It is a different world but you have to adapt; you have to play the hand that is dealt to you. I decided that I would not fold that hand.
Just as I couldn't do anything about being born blind, I couldn't do anything about the fact that at 50 years old I found myself at a crossroads. Sometimes I wonder how I could have wasted almost 25 years of my life working in a corporate environment. I had made good money and was good at my job, yet I hadn't made a positive difference in any person's life. At 50, that was not a pleasant thought. I needed to do something, but being visually impaired really limited my choices.
One night, I thought of my friend, Charlotte. I'm not sure what made me think of her but I believe it was a sign of things to come. Charlotte has been a massage therapist for 10 years and every time she worked on me, I was amazed at what she did with her hands. I wanted to work the same kind of miracles as she; I wanted to make that kind of difference in people's lives. I wanted to become a massage therapist.
Finding a school was challenging. Most training programs are geared toward the sighted therapist. As luck would have it, I found a school that was willing to work with me. The teachers used me as the "demo" so that I could feel the techniques, and they used any means necessary to ensure I learned the subjects. I was able to get my books in Word and PDF formats so I could study at home using computer screen-reading software, and I was given oral exams. Still, I couldn't see diagrams or visual aids. I couldn't see where the instructor was pointing when she said, "right here." I couldn't see what the instructor was talking about when she showed the video of the dissected cadaver. (OK, maybe I was not too disappointed in not being able to see that particular visual aid!)
Was school harder for me than for sighted people? I don't know. I had to learn the same information at the same rate and had to pass the same tests. The courses were intense, the information amazingly complicated. Modern technology certainly helped, though, and I thank W. B. Saunders and Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, for publishing textbooks accessible to visually impaired students. Through it all, I began to love what I was doing, and I ultimately finished with the second highest grades in my class - a testament to the teachers and my fellow students. I believe there are massage therapy schools that require students to do complete sessions blindfolded to help them use their other senses; this is a great practice.
But school was just the first challenge. As you might have guessed, the national certification test was a challenge, too. I had heard horror stories about the exam from online discussion groups for visually impaired bodyworkers. One Florida therapist requested someone to read the computer screen for her during the exam, which was provided. Unfortunately, on test day she was told that the person could only read the screen, not enter the answers into the computer for her. How stupid is that? Another therapist told me that her reader was allowed to enter the answers; however, the reader had a lot of difficulty reading the material.
My first experience with the testing company was not too different. I had to speak with an accommodations specialist, which was a joke. I had been approved for a reader but when I asked if the reader could also enter my answers, I was told that the reader was not a scribe, and that I had not been approved for a scribe. Again, how stupid is that? The situation was eventually resolved, but not before getting the runaround and having to write a letter to the national board requesting assistance.
I spent three weeks studying every day for at least eight hours to prepare for the exam. I used three study guides and every textbook from school. I studied until I thought my brain would pop. On the day of the test I knew I had a good reader/scribe. She was intelligent, warm and helpful at getting me registered and into the testing room. Then BAM! I didn't have a clue about the answer to the first question. I thought I knew it all. I immediately went into shell shock when BAM! I didn't know the second question. I had to sit back and take a few deep breaths. I thought I was in serious trouble. Why are they asking me who won the World Series in 1948? OK, maybe that wasn't the question, but it might as well have been. But I passed, much to my surprise.
After passing the state-licensing exam, I became a nationally certified, licensed massage therapist. I started a practice with a good friend and classmate, and we make a good team. She is good at helping me with visual assessments of clients. We have different specialties and complement each other's work, which is good for us and the business - not much different than sighted partners who work to make each other successful.
There are challenges trying to deal with blindness in any profession. We have those in massage therapy as well. There are surely things that I cannot do that would make me a better therapist. I can't, for example, observe a client walking down the hall to determine a structural issue that needs to be examined, but I can tell when one hip is higher than the other, if the femur is externally rotated, which direction the feet are pointing, where there might be hypermobility in a joint or hypercontraction in a muscle, or whether there is fourth-layer fibrosis in the lamina groove. These things I can do with my hands and my mind.
My clients do not find my blindness problematic. In fact, I think some are more comfortable with me since they know I can't see them.
I do have to be careful when I first approach the client to make sure I know where they are on the table so that my initial contact is in the right place. Yes, experience is the best teacher, and we should all learn from our mistakes. There are many great blind massage therapists in the country (all over the world, in fact) who have learned how to cope, and sometimes even consider their blindness an advantage. I know I do at times.
There are things people can do to help the visually impaired. First and foremost, treat them with respect. I can't tell you how many times people will ask my wife things like, "What does he want to order?" or "Is he going to need any shirts to go with those pants?" like I am not even there, or I can't comprehend the language. Just because we are blind doesn't mean we are stupid. (Don't get me wrong, there are some stupid blind people just like there are stupid sighted people!) If you see someone with a cane or a guide dog in a public place, ask if you can help them find where they are going. Canes and guide dogs are great mobility aids, but they don't know a doctor's office from a ladies restroom. Did I mention my visit to the ladies room when I was at a conference one time? Figured it out because I couldn't find any urinals, only stalls. Glad there was nobody in there - I think. That was before the universal symbols that can be felt to determine which restroom it is.
I also want to encourage massage therapists to volunteer to help visually impaired therapists they meet at seminars or conferences. It is great to have someone who can help with visual aids and demonstrations. And if you are teaching a seminar with a visually impaired therapist in attendance, see if that person would like to be the client for demonstrations. Sometimes we need help, sometimes we don't, but it never hurts to ask.
I love my profession and most people in the profession. I only wish I had figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up before I grew up. I would not have wasted so many years in the corporate environment where you are truly just a number and where the company doesn't appreciate anything you do no matter how much of your life you dedicate to it. In massage therapy, I have a positive impact on real people; I truly help others. This is what massage therapy is all about.
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