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21st Century Marketing: Five Ways to Use Social Networks as a Customer-Service Tool
As the popularity of social networks grows among businesses and professionals, customers' expectations about how they will be served through these networks continue to evolve.
German Auricular Acupuncture: Effective For Your Patients
Auricular medicine as developed by Western medical doctors in Europe is a complete modality of diagnosis and treatment. Unlike body acupuncture, auricular acupuncture is treating the central nervous system rather than meridians.
Studies: Acupuncture Effective For Depression
Many people suffering from depression can find a natural and effective way to treat their symptoms with acupuncture, according to the latest study.
The Newest Public-Health Epidemic: Sitting Too Much, Moving Too Little
In my last column, I wrote about sitting versus standing at work. ("Sit or Stand? Strategies to Improve Workplace Health and Reduce Disease," Oct. 1 DC) I wrote the article from the perspective of an ergonomist.
Acupuncture: The Key and Future of High Sports Performance
Acupuncture is commonly utilized in the intervention of pain and has also been gaining popularity in sports medicine. Athletes are treated with acupuncture for the relief of soft tissue injuries such as sprains, muscle strains, and tendonitis.
Acupuncture In Haiti: Aid that Works
I recently returned from Haiti. So many people ask whether Haiti has recovered since the earthquake of January, 2010. Once you've been to Haiti, you would never ask that question. It doesn't make any sense.
Breathing Techniques To Resolve Patient Issues
When a patient of mine who has practiced yoga for nearly 30 years, told me that she was experiencing panic attacks, I was surprised. "After so many years of training, can't you turn them off?" I asked. "I do turn them off, but only temporarily," she replied.
Patellofemoral Pain: Fascial and Exercise Treatment
I recently had a male high-school senior come in who was having some patellofemoral pain, as well as some distal iliotibial band (ITB) pain. He had just started end-of-summer training to play high-school football.
Partnerships Leverage Power for Our Profession
While there are many recognized benefits and advantages to developing partnerships between organizations, the main reason why partnerships are established is relatively simple: There is added value in working together for a common cause or purpose.
Peer Points: In The Business of Herbs
When it comes to herbs, acupuncturist Cathy Margolin wants her patients and customers to know she is the expert they need. In order to do this, Margolin has studied the marketplace and incorporated key business lessons to build an herbal company that sells and markets herbs to the masses who may be skeptics.
The Lateral Subsystem and Lower Extremity Pain
Human locomotion is an incredible demonstration of muscle activation, timing, sequencing and patterning. The very idea that we can stand upright and put one foot in front of the other to get from point A to point B without falling down is miraculous.
Facial Rejuvenation: The Key to Exceptional Results
Acupuncturists make the best detectives. I know this first hand because I'm an acupuncturist and a private investigator and in both professions, there is a need to dig deep to solve the mystery.
Acupuncture Today Continues To See Unprecedented Growth
For the past decade, the profession has seen steady growth in stature with legislators and the general public. The growing presence of the profession has been directly reflected in the growth of our publication.
Acupuncture & Substance Abuse Rehabilitation
One of the most rapidly changing areas of healthcare is that of addiction medicine. Advances in brain imaging technology have allowed doctors and scientists to understand addiction, and recovery from addictive disorders, at the level of the individual neuron in the brain.
Unlocking Secrets of the Pelvis (Pt. 3)
In part 1 of this series [Aug. 15 issue], we began to identify the many asymmetries human beings are all born with and detail how these asymmetries, when they become excessive or unchecked, can create a cascade of imbalance in every system of our body, resulting in dysfunction, pain, degeneration and eventually disease.
Promoting Acupuncture with Acupressure Demonstrations
Dan and his wife Marla were admiring the beautiful bouquet of flowers at our booth at the Business Expo when our receptionist asked him if he knew anyone who had tried acupuncture.
Continuing Education Showdown: Online Learning vs. In-Person Seminars
Many state TCM and acupuncture regulatory bodies and associations are interfering with the success of their members by limiting the number of continuing education credit hours they can earn online.
Educating the Growing Hispanic Population About the Value of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic was given the spotlight on the largest and highest-rated Hispanic television network in the U.S., Univision.
PCOM Symposium Celebrates 25 Years
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioners and students, as well as providers representing various other health care disciplines, flocked to San Diego's Catamaran Resort Hotel to attend the PCOM Annual Symposium on Oct. 24-27.
Electric Qigong: An Ancient Therapy Evolves
Recently in a small, dimly lit treatment room in downtown Taipei, Wesley Chen instructed his patient to lie down. A frayed wire, which he wrapped around a small piece of metal, is now plugged in.
We Get Letters & E-Mail
Change: Healthy and Inevitable; Our Scope of Practice Needs to Change; Chiropractic Physicians Deserve to Be Accurately Informed.
Does Copper in Your Multivitamin Cause Dementia?
For the past year or more, I have been asked about whether it is safe to take multivitamins with copper because of a fear that is apparently spreading. The fear is that 1-2 mg of copper in multivitamins supposedly causes dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease.
Advancing the Primary Spine Practitioner
A large New York Blue Cross / Blue Shield plan hosted the formal inaugural training program for primary spine practitioners (PSP) on Sept. 28-29, 2013.
Sports Media Legend Joins the TIPS Team
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress developed "Athletic TIPS" (Towards Injury Prevention in Sports) in an effort to address the growing concern of sports injuries.
A Tribute to Richard D. Yennie, DC (1928-2013)
It was with sadness that I read the obituary of Dr. Richard Yennie in the Oct. 20, 2013 Kansas City Star. However, reading it also brought reflection and warm memories, as he was a close family friend of my grandparents, Cleveland College founders Drs. Ruth and C.S. Cleveland Sr.; and my parents, Drs. Mildred and Carl Cleveland Jr.
Managing a High Protein Diet
One of the most common clinical presentations in today's clinic is patients following a high protein diet. It seems that every year a new version of a high protein diet appears promising weight loss and physical transformation.
50 Million Opportunities
Toca! Tira! Golasso! While you may not recognize these words ("Touch! Shoot! Goal!"), I hear them often.
October, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 10
Searching for Simple Rules in Massage and Cancer Care
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
In a Facebook post, a massage therapist requested quick advice for working with a client with cancer. On Facebook, of course, everything is quick.Almost immediately, he was bombarded with massage recommendations, safety protocols, references to books and trainings and encouragement to get a note from the client's doctor before beginning massage therapy. Opinions were all over the place and some didn't agree, but most were strongly held.
There are many safety protocols in massage for people with cancer, depending on the approach, and some of them may seem strict and even intimidating. They may even call to mind an old-school style teacher with a stern face and pointer in hand, barking a lot of, "No!" and "Never!"
And it's just as tempting to condense the protocols into a "Ten Commandments" format, a simple list to keep everyone out of trouble, without having to think much more about it.
More Than One Disease
But real oncology massage practice is not as simple as a quick list and here is why: the word "cancer" represents more than 200 different diseases. Even "breast cancer" is not a single condition but is classified into several different types. Drilling it down even further, two clients with the same type of primary breast cancer can present very differently, depending on the extent of the disease, reactions to treatment and other factors.
With so many ways our oncology clients can present, a list of "10 Things to Remember for Massage for a Client with Cancer" would not begin to capture them all. This is disappointing for those of us who've come to expect our advice in neat 5- or 10-point lists, packaged and propagated on social media.
Moreover, many of us learned and practice massage contraindications based on a client's diagnosis. Massage is contraindicated for X or Y condition. Unfortunately, this approach has never been adequate for any condition. But it particularly backfired in the case of cancer, where we had a single, flat-out, send-them-home massage contraindication that endured for decades. That one never worked well for clients or therapists. All it did was keep them apart.
Things have improved since then, with plenty of literature and training on oncology massage, a growing cohort of oncology massage therapists and even a professional organization, the Society for Oncology Massage (www.s4om.org). Thanks to the Society, there are standards of practice and even standards of oncology massage education with a fleet of recognized instructors around the globe. Some massage schools, as well, have made improvements in instruction, with careful attention to this population.
But in some places, the thinking hasn't evolved much at all. In many circles, "Send them home," has been replaced with, "Work lightly and you should be fine." This single approach is hard to justify for 200 different conditions representing thousands of different client presentations. Unfortunately, a blanket contraindication is not any improvement over a blanket contraindication. Still, we cling to rules like this. Sometimes too tightly. We strive to follow them to the letter because, if we do this, we will be doing everything "right" and the outcome will be positive. Or will it?
Beware the Blanket
Take all the many different types of cancer alongside all the different types of PEOPLE in the world – age, gender, level of activity, health history, ability to bounce back from illness, responses to cancer treatment and the thousands of other factors that make up who they are – and there just isn't a blanket rule big enough to cover it all. Nor should there be.
At a recent oncology massage practice clinic, we had two clients with similar-sounding diagnoses. Both had been diagnosed with breast cancer within the past four years, had received similar treatments and were about the same age. On paper, they could have been twins, except for their answers to this question: "What kind of activities are you able to participate in?" "Client A" wrote "kayaking and yoga." "Client B" wrote "babysitting grandchildren." Without making assumptions, this was our first hint that one might be more active than the other.
On the day of the clinic, "Client A" sailed into the treatment room, looking robust and buoyant with energy. She greeted everyone with clear eyes and shook hands vigorously. "Client B" was much more careful with her steps, stopping for frequent rests on the way up the stairs, her gait slower than her "twin-on-paper." The difference between the two was immediately obvious.
Different Presentation, Different Massage
"Client A" needed some adjustments in massage – notably in stroke direction, placement and pressure over the arm and trunk compromised by missing lymph nodes. With lymphedema risk, she had to receive thoughtful work in that area, as described in Gayle MacDonald's epic text, Medicine Hands: Massage Therapy for People with Cancer.
But outside these careful measures, "Client A" could take slightly stronger work in places, and that's what she received that day. Afterward, she was relaxed, glowing and effusive about the massage therapist's skills.
"Client B" needed the gentlest massage – light pressure, slow speed, even rhythms, gradual transitions and a host of other adjustments to the information in her history. Also at risk for lymphedema, she received similar work in the at-risk area. After such a gentle session, she looked blissfully relaxed. A stronger session could easily have wiped her out. Instead, she seemed to float out the door as slowly as she'd entered it.
After thoughtful interviews and sound clinical reasoning, each client received an individualized session. But had we practiced with a "go lightly and you should be fine" mentality, Client A and Client B would have received identical sessions. Client A would have received the massage meant for Client B, with the possibility of a much less satisfying experience.
This has serious consequences, because without customized care, we can lose clients. Why? Because they can feel as if they are not being heard or being seen for who they are beyond the "cancer" label. We want to stay far away from the possibility of causing injury to our clients with cancer, of course. Our hearts are in the right place. But if we are TOO careful, we can be seen as being out of touch with what our client really needs and what they are capable of safely receiving.
Some of those harder-and-faster "rules" are easy and there is comfort in that ease. But sometimes, in our quest to compartmentalize and label and follow rules X, Y and Z, the client themselves – how they present, what they want, who they ARE – gets pushed aside. When our client comes and sits down in our treatment room for the first time, they deserve more than an imaginary "cancer" stamp on their forehead.
A Place for Protocols
There is a time and place, certainly, for sticking closely to protocols that we have been taught so that we can deliver a safe massage. I'm a fan of protocols as a place to start.
But I also like principles – general guidelines to use in different scenarios with thought as to how they are applied. These wear better than rigid, inflexible rules. In my book, Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy, I offer principles to follow. One is the Unstable Tissue Principle, which states, "If a tissue is unstable, do not challenge it with too much pressure or joint movement in the area." Tissue can be unstable for many different reasons, but in the "twin clients' case," lymph node removal put them both at risk of lymphedema. (A carefully structured, gentle approach was necessary and it's impossible to describe it fully in a sentence or two.)
There, the clients' similarities ended. The Activity and Energy Principle states, "A client who enjoys regular, moderate physical activity or a good overall energy level is better able to tolerate strong massage than one whose activity or energy level is low." Client A could take more. Not lots more, because of some lifelong changes that can be caused by cancer treatment. But more.
Yet, by themselves, even principles are not enough to go on without good thought, good interviewing and solid hands-on skills for this population and other medically complex scenarios. Neither of the principles above captures the full range of clinical possibilities in people with cancer or cancer histories. That's the point.
We have to step back from the name of the disease, from the so-called "rules," and even from the friendlier "principles." Zoom out and see how the condition presents in this one person, this one individual so different from anyone else. This person living this person's life, not someone else's life. Then, a client receives the massage for the client; not the massage meant for someone else.
This is what we figure into our interview and hands-on work. Instead of one-dimensional, black-and-white rules for massage contraindications, critical thinking, clinical reasoning and interview skills deserve emphasis in massage education and clinical practice.
Some massage therapists can figure out what is needed by reading, self-teaching or prior experience with medically complex populations. But most need training in these skills. Training is just as important for learning what we can do, as what we should not do. That's where the Society for Oncology Massage comes into play. They laid a foundation; now the rest of us don't have to reinvent the wheel.
And there are many other resources out there. On my website (www.tracywalton.com), there are several bibliographies, a blog, and I've put up webinars about massage in cancer care for an intro to the deeper issues at work. For my own education, I read everything on oncology massage that I can get my hands on and I ask my students and colleagues to as well. Unlike 20 years ago, there is now plenty of literature available.
And plenty of clients deserving great, customized care.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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