resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
September, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 09
Compassion Really Is Good Medicine
By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR
Some think compassion is an attribute reserved for spiritual leaders. But compassionate presence isn't just reserved for people who travel a moral high ground. It's something we all can cultivate and draw upon when life calls us to the bedside to care for someone in need.For massage therapists, compassionate presence is both a personal quality and a professional skill that has an increasing relevance in today's health care.
There are various definitions of compassion. Benevolence and loving-kindness are other words that describe this heart-centered human experience. All the definitions have, at their core, this commonality: compassion is heartfelt concern for the suffering of another, or one's self, coupled with feeling moved to do something to bring about increased wellbeing for the one who is distressed. I'm sure we can all think of times when we experienced compassion: with a client, with a loved one, with a pet, with the homeless old man on the sidewalk. We would likely all agree that it's good to feel compassion. Scientists are interested in the impact of compassion and they're finding that it's, well, good medicine!
Interestingly, the study of compassion is thriving. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education within Stanford University's School of Medicine conducts scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior. Researchers here are finding that compassion lends itself to being measured. Scientists are looking beyond Western "hard science" — traditional, biological science — to see what they might learn about human behavior and emotions from other paradigms, especially heart-centered ones such as Eastern philosophies. Neuroscientists are using brain studies to look at how compassion affects us biologically.
Antonio Damasio, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, reports that emotional states are created by brain activity in the hypothalamus, basal forebrain and brain stem primarily, plus they rely on the release of neural chemicals. For example oxytocin, a peptide, known as the "care and connection" hormone, which is stimulated by touch and physical contact. Evidence also suggests that brain measurements don't show much difference between a person suffering extreme pain and the person who witnesses such an experience in another.
Research conducted by Richie Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin reveals that when people experienced in mediation witness people suffering, MRI scans show increased brain activity in areas related to nurturing and social connection. When people who do not meditate observed the same suffering, their brain activity increased in areas related to more negative emotion such as sadness or aversion, resulting in their wanting to leave the situation. When this second group was taught and practiced loving kindness meditation, their brain scans revealed changes similar to the first group.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that 40 seconds of compassionate communication from a physician could reduce anxiety among breast cancer patients, as well as increase the patient's confidence in the doctor and positively impacted the doctor-patient relationship. If you've been to a doctor's appointment recently, you've likely noticed the ever-present computer screen in the room and the doctor's attention is focused on the screen for, at least, part of the visit. While I understand the efficiency of electronic documentation in health care, I fear that this procedure is one more insult on an already fragile doctor-patient relationship in modern health care. I appreciate the work of Paul Tournier, a Swiss physician and proponent of "medicine of the person," an attitude emphasizing that attention be given to the holistic nature of health problems. This approach places the person on the same level as technique or theory. It embraces dignity, suffering, intact abilities, acceptance, validation, intuition and purpose. Dr. Tournier encouraged authentic communication with patients and recognized how it could improve the experience for healthcare professionals helping them to find greater satisfaction in their work.
Cultivating Compassionate Presence
For years, I've made the point that compassion is a natural human quality that is omnipresent and that we can bring it forth with intention. Because I'm in the process of cultivating my own awareness, I enjoy finding guidance from the masters. In a conversation between The Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman, a prominent American psychologist and researcher, they agree that compassion is cultivated through training rather than it being a spontaneous emotion. Ekman believes that compassion is different from emotion. He explains that emotions arise spontaneously and that we are born with the capacity to experience a range of emotions. But compassion, he claims, needs to be cultivated if we are to extend it in the world. Once we have integrated compassion into our world view, we are more likely to automatically respond compassionately, even to strangers. With practice, as in meditation, compassion becomes a part of our permanent nature and then arises more spontaneously. There is a myriad of heart-centered mediations. I've modified this one that's taught by Jack Kornfield, a leader in bringing Eastern meditation practices to Western culture. The intention is to bring the mind and heart together.
Practicing Compassion Meditation
Sit comfortably. Be in your body and focus your attention upon your breath. If you wish, place one or both hands upon your heart center. First, you will direct loving kindness to yourself.
Picture two or three people who care about you. Imagine them looking lovingly at you. These might be people in your life now or in the past or even spiritual figures. What would they wish for you? Repeat these simple phrases imagining they were saying them to you.
How does that feel? Notice what arises and remain centered. Try not to judge any thoughts, but simply let them pass through your mind. Most loving kindness meditations use the word "I" where I've used "you." The reason I've suggested it this way is that I've found in my own practice that it's powerful to accept loving attention from others. You can substitute the words so that they resonate for you.
Now picture someone you would like to send compassion to. It might be someone you are close to, a client or a stranger. It might even be someone you are having a challenge with. Repeat the same phrases, directing them to this person. You might even hold a photo of the person in your hands.
Again, sit for a few minutes simply noticing anything that arises. To end, take in a deep, cleansing breath and bring your awareness back into your body. Offer thanks for the experience in whatever way you wish.
Touch is Person-Centered Care
I believe massage therapists have the power to offset the impersonal nature of healthcare today. We carry the torch of Tournier's vision of person centered medical care! Our service is sorely needed in hospitals, eldercare, homecare and hospice where so many people feel lonely, helpless and broken. We can do a lot to offset these feelings and offer a sense of well-being in their place. There are times we can draw upon simple techniques combining compassionate presence with touch. The following focused touch technique can be used anytime you are called to the bedside. Let's say a 72-year-old woman has been coming to you for three years for massage. You get a call from her daughter telling you that your client has had a serious stroke and now she's in the hospital. Could you please visit her there? As you walk through the hospital, you feel nervous and many thoughts are running through your mind. What will she be like? I know I can't massage her like before, so what can I do? Will she be in pain? Will I be sad to see her this way? I feel so bad for her. What should I say?
First, it's important to center yourself before you enter the room. This helps to focus your attention and calm you. You are touching her with your presence and energy just entering the room. So take a deep breath and ground yourself.
As you walk into the room your client (friend) appears to be sleeping. There are monitors attached to her and an oxygen tube at her nose. You might feel a little stunned to take in the scene. It's a normal reaction to be a little shocked. You decide not to wake her but rather sit quietly in the chair across the room and while sitting there you feel sad and a little afraid. This is exactly the kind of situation where the compassion meditation can serve you well. Compassionate presence informs you and leads to the next right action. Now you are ready to offer the gift of your touch.
This simple technique is especially useful when you are with someone who is seriously ill. Focused touch is a powerful expression of compassion when words are lost, creating a sense of well-being and decreasing feelings of loneliness.
Stand at the bedside. Gently place one hand either under her hand or upon the forearm. Then cradle the shoulder with your other hand. Simply hold her while silently saying the compassion meditation, directing the words to your friend. Presence will inform the quality of your touch. To close, slowly release the touch, keeping your attention on your friend. Offer thanks for the experience.
In closing I send these thought to you: May you be well and live your life with ease. Thank you for the opportunity to assist you on your path of service. Pass it forward!
Click here for previous articles by Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.
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