Discover How Massage Benefits the Disabled

Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS’s 8/14/17 article in Institute for Integrative Healthcare’s journal reiterated some wonderful wellness points! Many physical disabilities have the following symptoms: tremors, spasticity, rigidity of muscles, uncoordinated movements, loss of balance, slowness of movement, inability to walk, and pain & stiffness of muscles throughout the body. Similarly, people confined to a wheelchair may suffer from the following: atrophied muscle tone, skin breakdown resulting from constant pressure and decreased circulation that occurs, spasticity & spasms in muscle tissue, and decreased cardiovascular health. Massage can significantly improve pliability of muscle tissue, which results in less spasticity and improved muscle function as well as improved flexibility and range of motion; this can often be the difference between being able to walk or not! Cardiovascular and lymphatic systems also suffer from lack of movement, which decreases venous and lymph return significantly. Massage has also been shown to increase circulation and improve lymphatic return. People with edema may see great improvement with lymphatic massage. Massage therapy has also been shown to decrease anxiety and stress in people with developmental disabilities, often resulting in significant decreases in behavioral outbursts. Often, there is a loss of feeling that accompanies loss of function, especially in people with paralysis; the therapist must not work too deeply then. Also, many who suffer from muscle contracture may be hypersensitive and require light, circulatory work!


Understand Proprioception for Safe and Effective Massage Treatments

Published in Institute for Integrative Healthcare’s 5/15/17 journal, Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS did it greatly again! Proprioceptors are nerve endings embedded in muscle fibers, tendons, and joints that inform the central nervous system about location and movement of body. There are different types: stretch (send info about tension levels in muscles), ones in tendons (like Golgi tendon organs that sense tension, thereby protecting against tearing), and ones that inform of position and movement in joints. Another important factor of proprioception is that of interpreting the force necessary to perform an action (so eye-hand coordination and balance constantly at work!). Integrity (the body’s like a suspension bridge and everything’s connected) is an important aspect of proprioception, so increased tension in 1 area “pulls” on another area (ie.: bad posture commonly causes joint and muscle pain and shortening of muscle tissue, resulting in any number of functional movement difficulties). Proprioception is behind one of the key reasons massage therapy is excellent for pain management; the Gate Control theory is the main portion of this. When we experience a muscle injury, pain receptors send the message that that area hurts. That pain message does not travel as fast as the proprioceptive messages of muscle movement and location, so when we receive massage, the movement and location messages beat the pain ones, so they override the pain ones! Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is a post-isometric relaxation stretching method where a muscle is passively stretched, then undergoes isometric contractions against resistance while in stretched position, then is stretched again passively through the resulting increased range of motion. One proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation form is reciprocal inhibition, which is used especially when a muscle can NOT be used. PNF must be done done slowly and held for the stretched proprioceptors to become accustomed to the new position; this is what creates length! If it’s done too quickly, the Golgi tendon organs sense tension and interpret it as a danger to the tissue, making our central nervous system respond with signals to contract the muscles around the area to protect against further injury.

5 Benefits of Infant Massage You May Not Have Known

Written 8/1/17 and published 8/4/17 in Institute for Integrative Healthcare’s journal, Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS’s article was great and answered the question, “Is massage therapy just as effective for infants and children in decreasing stress and anxiety, decreasing muscle tension and pain, and increasing feelings of well-being?” with a resounding YES! These were the findings: 1. One of the most significant benefits for infants is improved sleep. Babies who received massage demonstrated improved sleep patterns, falling asleep more easily, and staying asleep longer. They’ve also shown increased alertness and activity during the day resulting from improved sleep. 2. Decreased stress behaviors have been noted in infants and young children who receive massage therapy, and studies have shown that cortisol, a major hormone produced when we experience stress and causes body-wide inflammation, levels were lower after massage therapy. 3. Infant massage has been shown to improve motor development, especially in premature infants and those with developmental problems. Increased responsiveness was also noted. 4. Infants in NICU who received massage therapy showed 21% more weight gain and were discharged an average of 5 days earlier than those who did not. 5. When infant massage is performed by parents, there’s improved interaction and bonding. Babies greet parents with more eye contact, smiling, and vocalizing and reaching responses; they are also more expressive!

Massage Improves Weak and Atrophied Muscle

The Editors at Integrative Healthcare republished their article from 5/5/16 in Institute for Integrative Health Care’s latest newsletter! Massage therapy does not directly build muscle, but it can minimize pain and provide optimum cellular circulation and nutrition to maintain maximum tone, thereby preventing atrophy for as long as possible. Muscle atrophy is, essentially, a decrease in muscle mass and strength. Weak and atrophied muscle can cause significant pain and decrease one’s ability to move freely and even to move at all! Muscle can atrophy from disuse, injuries that require immobility as part of their healing, aging, neurological conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and neuropathy. Muscle tissue can show signs of atrophy from disuse in as little as 3 days and become significant in less than 2 weeks. Massage therapy on weak and atrophied muscle can have the following therapeutic effects: an increase in blood supply and nutrition to muscle tissue, an increase in circulation, and a dilation of, blood vessels, and a decrease in congestion of, and a return of blood and lymph for, re-oxygenation and filtration. It can also help prevent adhesions of muscle fibers and increase local muscle tissue metabolism. The increased blood flow means an increase of red blood cells and nutrients to the area, which optimizes muscle growth! It can also decrease inflammation that can result in impingement on peripheral nerves through increased circulation and lymphatic return! Lastly, the Editors noted that studies have shown that a massaged muscle senses that it’s being stretched; thereby, there’s a reduction in the inflammatory response!

Massage Helps Treat Low-Back Pain

So that’s the title of an article in ABMP’s latest Massage and Bodywork! A March study reaffirms that massage can provide lasting relief for chronic low-back pain. Study subjects received 10 massage sessions, and the therapists used their own treatment plan. Results were measured using questionnaires. More than half of the participants reported clinically meaningful improvement in their back pain, and several improved so much that their scores on a standard screening test dropped below the threshold for disability! Even after 3 months with no more massage therapy sessions, 75% of the subjects who reported initial improvement said they still felt better! The lead study author says the study included a diverse group of patients and reflected real-life health-care situations. The researchers conclude: “Results provide a meaningful signal of massage effect for primary care patients with chronic low back pain and call for further research in practice settings using pragmatic designs with control group.”

Massage Therapy’s Powerful Role in Easing Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS’s above-mentioned article, in Institute for Integrative Health Care’s 6/1/17 newsletter edition, was another great reminder! MS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. It manifests itself in different patterns of inflammation based on location and levels of scarring, demyelination, and axonal damage throughout the CNS. The immune system attacks myelin, a protective layer around nerve fibers. Massage has long been shown to reduce fatigue and pain, as well as to reduce swelling and inflammation throughout the body and muscle tissues. It’s also been shown to reduce pain, partly due to a decrease in stress and partly due to a decrease in tension of muscle tissue and an increase in joint mobility. Swedish massage increases circulation by physically moving blood and fluid throughout the body, bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to muscle tissues. Capillary (where gas exchange happens!) dilation occurs through light strokes. It also increases movement of lymphatic fluid, decreasing swelling and inflammation, which can also aid in occurrence of pressure sores! Lastly, it’s been shown to decrease spasticity by relaxing muscles and improving range of motion of muscles and joints. Extreme fatigue can be exacerbated by total relaxation of muscle tissue, so patient and therapist always need to keep that in mind. Even though deep pressure may feel good during the massage, the therapist must never actually use it because over the next couple of days, at least, the patient possible will be rendered incapacitated due to it!

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