Medical Massage Therapy Training
Training for medical message therapy varies from state to state and institution to institution. Training is generally offered by public community or technical colleges, or by private institutions, many of them specializing in massage therapy. Programs frequently provide full- and part-time instruction, and teach various accepted massage techniques and practices, with placement assistance included after the student completes the program
Medical Massage Courses
The medical massage therapist’s education and training should begin with a thorough understanding of the human body’s anatomy and physiology. Additionally, courses should cover extensively the pathologies a therapist is likely to encounter in medical massage. For example, the Blue Heron Academy of the Healing Arts and Sciences in Grand Rapids, Michigan, teaches students assorted musculoskeletal conditions “body part by body part, joint by joint, condition by condition.” Beyond physical and physiological considerations, a key component of all medical massage training is ethics standards and behavior.
Hands-on, clinical experience is essential in medical massage therapist training. The clinical process focuses on four key areas: reducing inflammation, restoring soft tissue to its normal condition, returning the body part to its normal range of motion and creating a general upturn in the patient’s physical condition while lowering the patient’s discomfort. Clinical training should encompass both clinical practices and patient evaluation. The Blue Heron Academy begins students working with patients with six visits in three weeks, which allows the student time to both treat the condition and evaluate the patient’s recovery. Because the therapist is treating a condition based on a medical prescription, patient sessions are shorter, typically half an hour.
After the medical massage therapy student has mastered the coursework and the clinical experiences, she is ready to train in adjunct therapies. These include the application of hot packs and cold packs; cold, low-level soft-tissue lasers; electrotherapy; vibration or percussion therapy; and infrared lamps. Learning these therapies broadens the patient’s treatment options and speeds recovery while expanding the therapist’s capabilities and practice.