I found Rosi one day while surfing the net looking for neurology and massage. I found her articles very interesting and decided to contact her. Her branch of massage I wish I had learned when younger, but had never heard of it. Until I found Rosi, I had no idea it existed or that training could be had.

She was kind enough to allow an interview. It was postponed a few times due to family and personal matters. But, at long last, I offer this interview in hopes that those younger and interested will take up the challenge.

1. What is your background?

I have a personal history of researching neuroplasticity after severe acquired brain injury in 1971. I received a B.A. in 1988 with a major in Speech Communication and minor in Physics. I worked with elderly and people with disabilities, as a caregiver, placement coordinator, elder facility organic gardening coordinator, then as a case manager for 20 years.

Starting in 2005, I studied posture and movement dynamics, and the integration of emotions with body awareness. I became licensed as a massage therapist in 2009.

2. What got you interested in working with the nervous system through massage?

In 2011 I saw a man who had 4 years of unsuccessful treatment for TBI (traumatic brain injury). I worked with him using the techniques I had found most successful in my own recovery, as well as all the trainings I had taken since. In a single session, it changed his life around. I became curious: How could bodywork, integrated body awareness and emotional authenticity affect the brain so profoundly?

3. How did you find out about this branch of therapy?

I immediately started looking for where I could get more training in the brain and nervous system as a massage therapist. It had taken me 40 years to learn this on my own. Could it be done more systematically and in a shorter time for other people who suffered from TBI?

Online, I found one institute in Colorado where they taught functional neurology to bodyworkers in a year-long course. I figured I could never afford a years worth of plane fares, lodging and course fees. A few weeks later I met someone at the Portland AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) annual convention who said they might start classes in Portland! They didn’t have a venue, and I found them one.

4. How is Neuro massage different from more normal massage?

Functional neurology massage works to bring about better cooperation of the body, emotions and nervous system.†It uses learning and feedback principles of neuroplasticity--how the brain can rewire itself--to improve functioning.

The assessments (see "http://integrationmassage.com/functional-neurology-perspective-different-from-massage/" Functional Neuro--A Different Approach to Massage) may give me information about limitations in sensory processes & numbness in one arm, or down one side of the face, or continued pain from an old injury, or memory problems after whiplash. Or it may give me information about where movement is restricted or balance is poor.

I use the assessments to design the therapy. I may just massage one side of the body, if there is a left-right brain imbalance. Or I may give balance exercises or eye movements designed to affect the brain and limbic system. I may use inhibitory massage or sustained compressions, or PNF or resisted isometrics when there is hypersensitivity to pain.

5. Why do you think this branch of training holds promise for our profession?

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are always working with the nervous system when we touch someone. For the most part, we want to initiate a state of relaxation that allows healing, the parasympathetic response, the rest and digest mode instead of fight and flight.

The insights of neuro massage deepen our awareness of what we are accomplishing. It is also within our scope of practice to make a substantial difference in the lives of people who are suffering from neurological issues. When doctors cannot find a lesion, or apparent cause, it is considered a functional problem.

Functional neurology training provides the cutting edge insights of neuroscience, with new ways to think about how emotional, cognitive, and body symptoms interact. We can treat and give home exercises for:
††† Head trauma
††† Brain fog, memory and concentration
††† Numbness and tingling
†††Chronic pain of unknown cause
††† Dizziness or gait imbalance
People who work with children also treat ADHD and ASD, although I refer out for that.

6. What kinds of success have you experienced in your practice since this training?

I have applied this training to novel ways of working with elderly and people who are more fragile, and with head injury, trauma, Parkinson’s, MS, acute and chronic pain. I had one stunning success with a man with severe unrelenting pain, called central sensitization of pain, for 3 years. The changes in his life were breathtaking. I am planning on writing up this case report for publication, since the principles are simple enough for any MT to practice.

7. Can you say a word or two about working with wounded warriors with this training?

Our veterans who have returned from recent wars have a staggering rate of depression, suicide, head injury (ABI and TBI) and chronic pain. I encourage as many massage therapists as possible to work with our wounded warriors, to help alleviate this suffering.

Functional neuro massage is one tool among many that can make a huge difference in their lives, and for their families, and their ability to function and reintegrate into society.

8. How can those interested in this training get more information?

The website of the American Functional Neurology Society and information about their diplomate program is here: "http://www.dafns.org/" http://www.dafns.org/. Or you can contact DAFNS and Dr. Paul Thomas directly: 307-509-0354.

I have written blogs with more info about functional neurology massage on my website: "http://www.integrationmassage.com" www.integrationmassage.com

Rosi Goldsmith

Author's Bio: 

Linda Mac Dougall has an M.A. in Psychology and has spent many years working with the developmentally disabled as direct care to an administrator of two large group homes. She was a federal advocate for the state of Hawaii’s DD population before training in holistic health and massage, and specializing in seniors and the disabled. www.seniormassagegroup.com
More recently she has begun 'Love Your Longevity', a speaking adventure addressing baby boomers and their children on healthy aging.