resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
March, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 03
Educate Yourself: Massaging a Client with ALS
By Sharon Puszko, PhD, LMT
In 1941, baseball legend Lou Gehrig died of a neurological disorder known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. For the first time, people in cities across the country were discussing this rare and mysterious disease in their newspapers and on their radio stations.During the 70 years that have passed since then, advances in scientific research have provided us with a better understanding of the causes, symptoms, types and treatment of ALS. However, there is still no proven cure for the disease. Over the past 10 years, physicians have increasingly turned to massage therapy to help their patients manage the symptoms of the disease.
While this is fantastic news for practitioners of massage therapy, it also means we must educate ourselves about ALS. Do you know what the symptoms of ALS are? Are you aware of how the disease affects people emotionally? Would you treat an ALS client the same way you would treat an athlete? In order for massage therapy to be truly beneficial to PALS (People with ALS), massage therapists must do their best to learn appropriate techniques for ALS clients and do their best to understand what life is like for PALS.
What is ALS?
ALS is an incurable, degenerative, neurological disorder affecting the nerve cells of the brain and spinal chord that control voluntary muscle movement. These nerve cells deliver messages from the brain to the skeletal muscles of the body involved with voluntary movements such as walking, writing or playing an instrument. As these cells gradually deteriorate, the brain can no longer tell the body what to do. For instance, the brain of an ALS patient will tell its hand to pick up a pen and start to write, but the message will no longer be able to reach the hand. Muscles eventually waste away from disuse and this can lead to paralysis in the late stages of the disease.
The ALS Association says there are about 30,000 Americans living with ALS and about 5,600 people are diagnosed with the disease every year in the United States. ALS is more common among men than women and the majority of cases appear in people between the ages of 40 and 70. ALS has no economic, racial or ethnic boundaries and occurs in two out of every 100,000 people worldwide.
What Causes ALS?
There is no one definitive cause of ALS. There are several theories surrounding the causes of the two types of ALS occurring in the United States: sporadic and familial. Sporadic ALS is the most common type of the disease, accounting for 90% to 95% of all cases. Disturbances in the immune system, excess levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate and exposure to fertilizers, heavy metals or animal hides are all possible factors that may influence the likely hood of acquiring sporadic ALS. Familial ALS (FALS) accounts for the remaining 5% to 10% of ALS cases in the United States. About 40% of familial ALS cases are linked to a defective gene on chromosome 21 that does not produce a normal amount of the enzyme superoxide dismutase. It is unknown at this time what genetic defect is the cause for the remaining 60% of people with FALS.
Symptoms of ALS
Initially, patients with ALS usually experience a weakening of skeletal muscles in the arms and legs. They might also have frequent muscle spasms in these areas. People with ALS find it difficult to pick things up, walk, swallow and communicate effectively. As the disease progresses, the muscles of the arm and legs will begin to atrophy. During the final stages of the disease, the respiratory muscles that control breathing deteriorate and the patient must depend on a respirator for the rest of his/her life.
Some of the most common physical problems people with ALS encounter are: dysphagia and the need to meet nutritional requirements; the maintenance of blood gases within normal range; impaired verbal communication; weakness, impaired mobility and activity intolerance; constipation; and pain and discomfort due to muscle cramps. Depression is common among ALS patients and many experience an alteration in self-concept and body image.
Rilutex (riluzole) is one of the only drugs that has proven to prolong a patient's life and delay the progression of ALS. Most of the other medications (Baclofen, Zanaflex, Tramadol) prescribed by doctors are to help ease the patient's pain, not to treat the disease. Because many of the symptoms people with ALS suffer from are related to skeletal muscles, physical therapy and massage therapy are now being recommended as another form of pain management.
How Can Massage Help?
Massage therapy increases blood circulation, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion, reduces pain and swelling and promotes improved respiration: all of which can help treat symptoms ALS patients suffer from. People with advanced ALS are often threatened by decubitus ulcers from lack of activity. Massage therapy can help a patient maintain good circulation in order to avoid decubitus ulcers; at the same time, it can also help the patient overcome depressive feelings he/she might be having as a result of a recent loss of speech or the disease in general.
Dr. Robert Pascuzzi, a Professor of Neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is of the opinion that massage therapy, "can be very beneficial to patients with ALS. Those who have been fortunate enough to receive such therapy all seem enthusiastic about the effects: relaxation... rest... feeling good. If their muscles are stiff and spastic it helps relax them and makes their skin feel better. Remember, these patients have intact sensation; they just have weak muscles. I have probably had 10 or 20 ALS patients receive massage therapy over the years. I think doctors should suggest ALS patients try massage therapy, as it would be well worth a try for everyone. I think it improves the quality of their day. They feel better."
Below are some techniques designed specifically for the needs of an ALS patient.
Passive and Assistive Range of Motion Exercises
Range of motion exercises will prevent or at least slow down the freezing of joints as the disease progresses and the body moves less often. As always, check with the doctor before doing any of these movements.
While people in advanced stages of ALS might not be able to give verbal feedback to a massage, often they can let you know what they are feeling by the movement of facial muscles or the blinking of eyes. By asking "yes" and "no" questions, it is possible to work successfully with an ALS patient.
Sharon Puszko is the owner/director/educator for Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute. She may be contacted at
or through her Web site: www.daybreak-massage.com.
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