Massage studies help to tell us where our skills are effective, how much they are effective, for whom they are effective, how they are effective, and when they are effective. This helps the profession offer services that are most beneficial and helps clients get the best we can give. Studies can supply us with a sort of blueprint for our work with a variety of populations.

Here is one examining the effects on pain in postoperative breast cancer patients, I’ll bet you can guess the results, but if you work with this group or their families, you may need to educate them. Having some scientific backup can ease your way into serving these potential customers.

I work with several Alzheimer’s clients. This study,, confirms what I have always suspected and seen in practice. Acupressure and massage helps these people improve their sleep quality and quantity.

I have just been engaged to work with my ‘adopted’ mother twice a week for 15 minutes each time. She has Alzheimer’s and is very nervous. A few weeks back I tried to calm her. She would not get onto her bed, grabbing my hands and telling me we had to go. I had to dissuade her repeatedly from wandering into other people’s rooms.

Finally, I got her to go to the dayroom. There I steered her to the couch where we sat. Soon she was curled into my left side, muttering softly. I began stroking her back, neck, and head. I had been told that she didn’t sleep at night, and I knew she was in an anxious state whenever I saw her. But, being held securely against my body, that anxiety began to ease. In a while she was asleep.

I had to leave for other appointments. I eased out from under her and gently laid her on the couch, still asleep. Fifteen minutes twice a week may not be enough time to repeat this event, but i will do my best. She seems to need the security of being held to chase away the demons that haunt her mind.

For other clients with Alzheimer’s, I will work with them in their beds. For many, I will use gentle compression on various areas to relax their muscles. For those more alert with specific back problems, I will work various areas involved with local muscle massage as their medical and skin condition allows.

Here is a study on tuina and knee osteoarthritis, Although I did take this method of massage in school, I now use it rarely and not on knees. I use it with one man who lies on his side so I can work his painful back. I use tuina on his buttocks to loosen the tight muscles there that contribute to his back pain.

For those of you who do use this style of massage, I would be curious to hear from you about your experiences with knees. How would you work with this problem of osteoarthritis?

A study on palliative care veterans and the difference massage made for them can be found here, Veterans, old and young, and their families are often an underserved group.

I live across the street from a Navy base. Years ago some wives wanted me to come to their homes on base to give massages. Mindful of the military regulations, I went to the appropriate agency on base to inquire as to what they needed from me to be able to offer my services in-home.

What they replied bothered me. They had an official massage therapist at the gym (who did not go to homes) and that was the only therapist they would allow access to their military members. I tried to explain that we worked on different segments of the military families and that I would go to them. That held no sway and I was refused.

The gym was smelly, noisy, and not at all like the relaxing home environment. It was no wonder the ladies wanted home massage. We were all disappointed. Unless the women wanted to go off base, they had no choice but to use the therapist in the gym. No one therapist works for everyone, but no choice was given to the wives.

I can only hope that the more research that is published on massage therapy and its effectiveness with different conditions and different populations, the more doors will eventually open for those whose training matches the needs of those to be served. Studies support our work in many areas. Our training needs to support our efforts to be there for those who need and want our care.

Author's Bio: 

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 massage, and specializing in seniors and the disabled.