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Massage Today
January, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 01

Clients With Multiple Injuries

By Ben Benjamin, PhD

Question: What does it mean when a client has injuries in multiple locations?

Answer: Multiple injuries are often the result of a severe accident. I once knew an athlete who was hit by a bus while riding his bike. He had injuries all over his body and spent five years in a wheelchair until we found the right treatment to help him.

If there wasn't an accident, it's likely that the client has a systemic problem. Something is happening that is causing the body to break down more frequently and not heal efficiently. The person may have developed compensatory injuries in the kinetic chain - the areas adjacent to, and working in concert with, the primary area where the trouble began. If one area of the body hurts and isn't working well, the body naturally tries to compensate, which can cause new problems in other structures.

For instance, if your low back is painful on the right, you may walk out of balance to protect it, but then the hip may begin to hurt, and then the knee, and so forth. Or if you injure your right shoulder, you may start to do everything with your left arm and end up straining your left shoulder and neck as well.

Another possibility is that the client is out of shape, doesn't exercise regularly, has a poor diet or doesn't listen to their body when it sends messages to stop. Some people with multiple injuries have been living with a high degree of stress over a prolonged period of time. Or it may simply be that the person's image of themselves hasn't caught up with reality. I had one client who was 48 years old and thought he could still play basketball with high school students without getting injured.

It's important to identify the different factors that may be contributing to a client's pattern of injuries, so that you can not only provide effective treatment, but also help to prevent future injuries from occurring.

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