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Massage Today
June, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 06

Massage: A Story of Love and Commitment

By Angie Patrick

I often am asked the question, "What makes you so passionate about your job?" It is no secret that I love what I do. Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy my position and how devoted I am to massage.

I should tell you, I am not a therapist, but I am the lucky recipient of the benefits of massage. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the healing power of touch can provide for those who have been given little hope of survival. It is with this knowledge that I strive every day to bring awareness and shed light upon the healing power of massage.

Angie Patrick's comforting hand laid on Olivia Patrick. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark I was 38 years old and four-and-a-half months pregnant when I gave birth to Olivia Lior Wampler on March 30, 2004. She was the stronger of the twins and was the only survivor. She weighed a scant 1 lb., 6 oz. and was just over 12 inches long. Small, underdeveloped and weak, she drew one single breath upon her birth, and was then too weak to draw a second. But one breath was all it took for the brilliant medical team at Northside Hospital in Atlanta to begin to revive her and fight for her life.

Olivia faced many challenges, not the least being premature. She had two intraventricular brain hemorrhages, a perforated intestine, an unresolved patent ductus arteriosis, chronic renal failure resulting in extreme jaundice and toxicity, intubations, an inability to maintain body temperature, multiple blood transfusions and illiostomy - all of which occurred in her first few weeks on this planet.

For months, we were unable to touch her. Her skin was so thin it would tear with the simplest of touches. We could only watch through the incubator lid and pray for her to stay strong and to fight. After what seemed like a lifetime, I was able to hold her for the first time on, of all days, Mother's Day. She was so fragile and attached to so many machines, it was terribly awkward to hold her. But it was not an opportunity I would let pass by. Any chance the medical teams offered to touch her was gratefully accepted. My husband and I slept by her incubator, holding her tiny hand when we were allowed.

Working for Massage Warehouse, I have the good fortune of calling many wonderful therapists friends. When Olivia's skin strengthened and we were allowed to touch her, my friends rallied and began a regimen of touch therapies for Olivia. Until that time, Olivia had made slow progress. She was getting stronger, but it was a slow process. Once she began to experience the loving touch of friends, family and therapists; we began to see a turn in the tides.

Since I am not a therapist, I had no idea research even existed for the benefit of touch and massage for premature children. I had no idea that real, quantitative research validated the things I was seeing firsthand. Only after my own experience did I learn that many researchers had devoted much of their lives to document the growth and improvement I was seeing right before my eyes.

Olivia began to make improvements which many doubted she would ever achieve. She grew stronger with improved blood oxygen levels, stronger renal performance, more consistent blood pressure and a significant gain in body weight. She indeed was a fighter; her strength and will to live gave her father and I hope.

One thing became abundantly clear to me: No matter how small the client, the power of touch is healing. It nourishes and heals the body, and equally as important, it restores the soul. Olivia's will to survive was strengthened and our daughter came home on Sept. 17th that same year, weighing 7 lbs., 2 oz. She was on oxygen, Phenobarbital, Prevacid, Glycolax, an apnea monitor, a blood oxygen monitor and RSV shots, while a whole host of her family waited to hold her. And on March 30, 2005, we celebrated her first birthday at home with all of our friends and family in attendance. We had all been witness to a miracle, and we would all celebrate that milestone together.

Research gives medical validity to the things most therapists already know in their hearts. Simply put, touch heals. And with the continued research, the crusade to make massage therapy mainstream becomes an ever-increasing reality.

This is one of the driving forces behind the Massage Warehouse Sanctuary, a fundraising event for massage therapy research. The Florida State Massage Therapy Association (FSMTA) will host its 2007 Sanctuary in the exhibit hall, with all proceeds to benefit the Touch Research Institute in Miami. Tiffany Field's research for the "Effects of Massage on Premature Children" will receive every penny of the proceeds. My sincere thanks to the gracious event partners, whose generosity and philanthropy made this event possible (Click here for more information).

At the Sanctuary in Orlando, Fla., you will experience an oasis of calm in an exciting and action-packed exhibit hall. For your tax-deductible donation of $10, you can indulge in one of many 10-minute rejuvenating and soothing foot treatments designed to restore your balance and serenity on a personal level.

You can choose from a variety of treatments such as stone massage for the feet, basic foot massage, exfoliation and hot/cold contrast. Additionally, you will receive a copy of the treatment protocols used at the Sanctuary that you can utilize as add-on treatments in your own practice. You can use these treatments as an additional treatment option at the end of any massage session and increase your income!

I am committed to raising awareness and funding for research in the field of massage therapy, just as I am committed to assisting therapists in increasing their income. I am fortunate to have a job where I can be a part of an event that feeds both my passion and personal commitment to the massage profession. I love what I do, and I am delighted to be a part of this event. I invite anyone in the area to join us in Orlando for this exciting and innovative approach to fundraising, marrying two invaluable pieces of the industry - research awareness and therapeutic bodywork - for the greater good.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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