resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
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.
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.
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