resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
April, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 04
Massage for Caregivers
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
I have provided massage to people with cancer for years, and the exchanges I have shared with them have influenced me deeply. But some of my most moving encounters have been with the caregivers of people with cancer. These are family members, friends and partners who, by design or by accident, also are shaped and molded by their experiences as companions to their loved ones.
I meet caregivers when they bring their loved ones into my office. I also meet them at my clients' homes, bedsides and in the hospital. Occasionally, I even see them on my massage table, sometimes for an occasional massage and sometimes for a course of sessions.
Unfortunately, this is not as often as I wish. Caregivers often are the last to benefit from skilled touch in the cancer scenario. When I brainstorm with my students about the benefits of massage for people with cancer, we think up a flurry of ways touch can be helpful to patients. Often a lone voice will ask, "What about massage for family and other caregivers?" And we all quietly nod, remembering people who tend to be forgotten.
Caregiving can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining. It can mean being in a chronic state of emergency. It can require constant vigilance - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - for weeks, months or even years at a time. Imagine being at a sentry post for that long, never relaxing when your world is under siege. The sense of responsibility can be staggering, and rarely is matched by an equivalent amount of control over how things are going to go. Finding ourselves in this disparity, it's natural to be frightened, sad and outraged by the experience. It's no wonder the health risks of caregiving are enormous. Most poignantly, caregiving is isolating. It can be an incredibly lonely experience.
Against this landscape, I've looked for resources in massage therapy and found several. One is a book, A Touch of Hope, by Jana Carrington, who practices massage and teaches Reiki in central Florida. She knows both sides of the experience as a caregiver to her husband through years of cancer treatment, and as a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with cancer within months after her husband's completion of a bone marrow transplant and subsequent remission. Her book is designed for caregivers to read in small increments for self-care tips such as simple reminders to breathe. It's beautifully laid out and possible to draw from without making a commitment to reading the entire book.
I know of two research papers in which investigators looked at the effects of massage therapy on caregivers of people with cancer. The first, by Stephanie Rexilius, et al., appeared in 2002 in Oncology Nursing Forum. The researchers looked at caregivers of patients receiving a stem cell transplant. They recruited 36 caregivers and compared a massage group, a healing touch group and a control group. The massage and healing touch groups received two 30-minute sessions per week over three weeks. The investigators found anxiety, depression, and experiences of burden and fatigue at baseline. Although they did not find statistically significant improvements in the healing touch group, subjects who received massage therapy showed reduction in anxiety, depression and several types of fatigue.
In another paper, Nursing Research, a researcher looked at a more general population - spouses of patients with cancer. Author Linda Goodfellow recruited 42 subjects as part of her doctoral work in nursing. Half were provided with a single 20-minute massage. The other half (the control group) read a book for 20 minutes. In both groups, blood was collected via an IV that had been placed 30 minutes before the procedure. The investigator found improvement in mood and reductions in stress after the massage intervention as compared to the control group, but did not observe effects of massage on natural killer (NK) cell activity, a measure of immune function.
These two studies, while small, demonstrate a spark of interest in the potential for massage to help people's stress during difficult times in their lives. I would caution therapists to quote these studies carefully, without making sweeping claims. Something like, "Small studies suggest that massage therapy might help caregivers of people with cancer" and "Further study is needed to see what the role of massage is in this population," are more accurate than the statement, "Research proves massage helps caregivers."
But the fact that the research isn't quite there yet shouldn't stop us from seeking out work with caregivers. We don't have to wait for the science to support what we already know in our hearts: Skilled touch heals. It eases stress and builds an important bridge between people, easing the isolation of some of the hardest human experiences.
Yes, resources are growing in recognition of caregiver stress. But one of the greatest resources might be massage therapy professionals. Our willingness to listen, the full attention we give to our clients, and the support we provide to others can be powerful. As they give their companionship to others on the cancer journey, so too can they use our companionship.
One of the best resources in this caregiver scenario might prove to be our own hands. There we can comfort, reassure, ease pain, help sleep, shift perspective, validate and support. There we can provide respite, a port in a storm - and where nothing has to be explained, just wordless, quiet support. It will be interesting to find out, in the years ahead, the difference that our work can make.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.