resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
The CDC came out with a report in March 2013 that suggests 1 in 50 children will be diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum – significantly higher than the 1 in 86 figure that came out in 2007. What does this mean moving forward, particularly for children?
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
April, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 04
Hospice Massage: What is Our Role at Life's End? Part 2
By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR
In part one of this series on hospice massage, I explored how massage eases the many dimensions of pain for the person suffering from a life-limiting illness. The value of massage therapy in pain management is an easy association to make. We feel confident in our role of easing pain and can point to concrete reasons why we know massage is beneficial. But what is our role in serving those who have entered the final stages of life? It's important to gain a broader perspective of the role of massage therapy in hospice care. We can start by understanding a few basics about the process and to recognize that the later stages of life are part of a continuum.
Life-limiting illness means the person has been diagnosed with a progressive condition that affects quality of life and death is eminent within a more or less predictable period of time. When a person enters hospice care, he agrees that the focus of medical care will be comfort and quality of life--not curative. An individual may enter hospice care at any point along the continuum. Some are referred to hospice services at the time diagnosis of a life-limiting illness and receive hospice care for weeks or months. Others don't seek out hospice care until entering the final stages, referred to as actively dying. Active dying is the term used when death is eminent and the body systems begin to shut down leading up to the individual's transition. Certainly our role is going to be very different in serving the person who is actively dying.
When visiting an inpatient hospice unit affiliated with a hospice in the Chicago area, I asked the nurse what the average length of stay is. She told me that it is three days and that many of their patients are actively dying upon admission. This hospice unit offers massage therapy services to patients and their families. So again, I ask, "What is our role?" I'd like to offer a frame of reference that has served me well as a foundation from which to act. These are simple ideas that I have gathered along my own path of service.
Frame of Reference for Serving the Dying Person
To be a healing presence. There comes a point when massage as we know it is no longer called for. Instead we are called upon to bring forth something that comes from deep within--our ability to simply be present. Rather than cling to prescribed techniques, we must trust the simplicity of human compassion and our capacity to offer it to another. Our best resources when serving the dying person don't come from the techniques we've studied but from within our own hearts. We become the space-holder, allowing the dying person his/her own process and experience, and sometimes serve as an anchor for family members and other caregivers.
To enhance the quality of life. Doing what is called for in the moment to ease any form of discomfort is the best approach to take. One minute you might be offering a gentle foot massage or holding a hand and the next, moistening dry lips or helping to turn someone on their side to make breathing easier. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa: "Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work." Hospice service is about doing the humble work of each moment as it unfolds.
"But what am I supposed to DO?" you may ask. "If I'm there as a massage therapist, aren't I supposed to be doing bodywork?" These are questions I've heard from my students over and over again. The answer is two-fold: First, we must be willing to let go of our idea of what a session looks like. A session with a dying person may include gentle massage, focused touch or no touch at all. The length of a session varies according to what is called for at the time. The key is sound clinical judgment but also letting the rules go to truly serve the person. Confidence in our skills allows us to listen to our inner guidance and respond accordingly. Sometimes we really have to stop doing and simply BE.
Secondly, it is essential to have a repertoire of skilled touch approaches that are appropriate when the situation calls for them. I understand the need and desire to know some techniques that are safe and beneficial. The following are some hands-on approaches that may be useful in serving the dying person.
Sometimes the most compassionate thing you can offer is holding a hand or the feet while you focus your attention on the inner wholeness of the one you are touching. It is important to center yourself prior to making any physical contact.
Lifting and Shifting.1 This technique involves moving a part of the body for positional change and to ease pressure. Change the adjustment of the bed or add support of pillows under the arms or legs. Mindfully adjust the pillows under the head. Lifting a part of the body and holding it up for a moment relieves pressure.
Synchronized Breathing.2 This technique is effective to help ease difficult breathing. It involves synchronizing your own breath with simple massage strokes. First synchronize the rhythm of your own breath with slow effleurage strokes; breathing in as your hands move distally (toward your own body). Then breathe out as your hands move away from you. Let the sound of your breath be audible. This is a silent interaction. No words are necessary to encourage a natural synchronization with the rhythms of your breath and touch. If the person cannot tolerate physical contact you may remove the touch and focus only on the breath.
Support for the Bereaved
Hospice services must provide bereavement support or counseling for the family of the dying person. Bereavement means the extended period of grief preceding the death and following (usually for one year) the death of a loved one, during which individuals experience, respond and adjust to the loss. Supporting those suffering the loss of a loved one is a way to extend the gift of your touch and ease the impact of bereavement. Other caregivers in the hospice organization may also benefit from your services to alleviate the effects of caregiver fatigue and prevent burnout.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recognizes massage therapy as a valuable contribution to end-of-life care, stating: "Therapeutic massage is becoming a significant modality in end-of-life care because of its effectiveness in relieving anxiety, pain, and discomfort."3 Serving those in hospice care can be profoundly rewarding as we contribute to the quality of life at a very personal and sacred time of another's life. And, just as importantly, we will influence the nature of end-of-life care.
Click here for more information about Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.
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