Hospice Massage vs Spa Massage

by Robert Amaro, LMT

Those in the hospice and palliative care business tend to overlook the value and positive effects massage has on our patients. Perhaps it is due to a misunderstanding of what we do in hospice compared to what we might do in a traditional spa setting. The difference between spa services and the type of massage we do with hospice and palliative care patients is a little like comparing apples and oranges; they are night and day.

A few of the services offered in a traditional spa setting would never work for our patients. Massage services such as deep tissue, Swedish massage and hot stone would never go over well for the patients we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Another service you might see offered at a spa is the body wrap, and some wellness centers even have pre-natal massage. The list is endless of the types of specialty massage services offered at upscale spas and salons. Of course none of these massage services will work for our hospice and palliative care patients.

150315 cranialmassageThere are several massage modalities that can be incorporated specifically into the needs of the hospice/palliative care patient. First and foremost is a technique called CranioSacral Therapy (CST). CST is a light touch approach that can create dramatic improvements to one’s body because it directly affects the cranium, the spinal cord and the sacrum. Its goal is to release tension deep within the body, thereby relieving pain. The modality has a direct effect on the central nervous system. In fact, there are some interesting studies on the profound effects CST has on a variety of end of life pathologies such as Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is another technique used frequently in the hospice and palliative care field. Many cancer patients develop edema in their upper and lower extremities. MLD simply moves the fluid out. The results can be instantaneous when this technique is used correctly.  Many patients with edema fear they can’t be touched and nothing can be done to help them but this technique has had some astounding results.

Another technique used to help patients relax when they are agitated or restless is Reiki. This is an energy technique that lightly palpates the body or, in some cases, uses the patient’s aura to communicate with the body without the need for touch. The patient’s body simply responds to its own energy fields with a massage therapist’s assistance. Yes, even patients who are obtunded and unresponsive still have energy in their bodies and that energy can be affected in a positive manner.

The massage therapists at Nathan Adelson Hospice are highly skilled at what they do. One of the best compliments I ever received was from a nurse who said, “When you get done doing your work, my patients are less agitated and they need less medication.” Less medication at this point and time is one of the great benefits of massage therapy. This is a strong testament to the type of work we do and the results we can achieve.

All of NAH patients can benefit from massage therapy. Whether the patient is alert, lethargic, obtunded or unresponsive, massage therapy can have a profoundly positive effect.

RAmaro-2009Robert Amaro, LMT, is a massage therapist in the Las Vegas, NV, area and has been practicing Hospice and Palliative Care massage for the last four years. His current employer, Nathan Adelson Hospice, has offered him immense opportunities and challenges. To help people find comfort at the end stages of life is one of the most rewarding positions he has ever had – it is Robert’s pleasure to share some of his experiences.

 

originally published at http://www.nah.org/blog/entry/hospice-massage-vs-spa-massage
reprinted with permission

Conscious Giving

This is the time of year when the gift of massage is most given, when those in need’s voices are heeded, and when massage therapy professionals’ families may get the most benefit from a visit from their family’s massage therapist.

It is a great time for a reminder to people who have worked diligently and exhaustingly all year to get a massage from their friendly, neighborhood massage therapist – a time to relax and let their hair down for a re-centering, rejuvenating time of healing and introspection while on the table, their mini-vacation, during this holiday season.  It is a great time for those who get massage regularly, for rehabilitation or pain management, to revisit why massage therapy is such a great “healer” and re-evaluate their relationship with massage.

Did you ever think about contributing your talent, skill, and intention for massage therapy to the less fortunate than those of your family, friends, and clients?

Did you ever think about creating value for your clients AND increasing your personal growth using your talent and skill as a massage therapist?

What if you could touch the quality of life of a person that you do not know nor would ever have come in contact with if it were not for your good nature and willingness to share the power of touch through massage?

There are such possibilities and opportunities – your gift to your community this year can be:

  • at a homeless shelter, where touch services are rare.
  • in a hospital, where touch services are needed to assist in recovery and pain management.
  • free massage session(s) for a local fundraising effort, to either encourage donations to the charity by donors that would “win” your free massage OR give free chair massages to the volunteers that coordinate/facilitate the fundraising activities.

There are many ways in which you can do something to provide your massage community with the value of massage…that doesn’t cost a lot for you or the client of your intent.

As we prepare to fulfill those gift-given certificates, also prepare to consider lending a helping hand to those who need a massage and may not be able to afford it – create, for yourself and your existence as a practitioner in your community, a value that extends beyond your ability to discount your service pricing and reaches the far corners of your community where massage is valued as a form of positive, life-changing experience that has no cost and immeasurable value.

David J Otto LMT, AMTA-Nevada Chapter President

Think about a few ways, and Comment here – your sharing may just spark that holiday-giving attitude in another massage therapist that can lead to great things!