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Do-It-Yourself Massage

Recently, I received a flyer from a build-it-yourself workshop broker. For $250-300 you can participate in a series of workshops that will teach you how to install a wood floor, plumbing essentials, do a bathroom reno, upholster furniture... even put up drywall and perform carpentry. Apparently, each workshop is presented by industry professionals, and you are assured that you will save thousands of dollars in home renos by doing it yourself (DIY).


October 21, 2010
By Don Dillon RMT

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Recently, I received a flyer from a build-it-yourself workshop broker. For $250-300 you can participate in a series of workshops that will teach you how to install a wood floor, plumbing essentials, do a bathroom reno, upholster furniture… even put up drywall and perform carpentry. Apparently, each workshop is presented by industry professionals, and you are assured that you will save thousands of dollars in home renos by doing it yourself (DIY).

Regardless of how suspicious you may be of this business model, you must admit, many people will try it. In the age of technology and Internet-based information, many people are more savvy and, in fact, feel proud to save where they can… despite the inevitable impact on craftsmanship and quality. Industries – real estate, home improvement, fitness, landscaping, legal counsel, and even divorce and civil courts – have experienced an elbowing out of professionals by “do-it-yourselfers” eager to save money and earn bragging rights. Health-care and wellness industries are also subject to the DIY mentality.

People can order pharmaceuticals online and can research their symptoms via websites, sometimes becoming more informed on certain issues than their general practitioners are. Billions of dollars worth of vitamins, non-prescription pain medication, exercise equipment and other items are sold to self-diagnosing, self-prescribing “consumers” who, armed with “some information,” seek a solution to their current problem or need.

HOW WILL THE DIY MENTALITY IMPACT MASSAGE THERAPY?
Foam rollers, inflatable balls and percussive/vibratory devices are already being incorporated into self-massage. In fact, massage therapists often prescribe and supply these devices to provide relief between office visits. Small, self-applying TENS (muscle stimulators) and ultrasound machines are available, and hot tubs and saunas are finding their way into more homes as pricing for these becomes more affordable.

Massage therapy is time and labour intensive and, further- more, relies heavily on employee benefits plans and discretionary income available in strong economies to finance supply. But with the economy of cheap, surplus goods that pervades our society, more people will seek relief on their own. For instance, videos can be found on YouTube that compare the cost of a foam roller to massage care with the roller, inevitably surfacing as a more economical, and equally practical, alternative to actual massage therapy. Massage chairs claim to be “your personal masseuse…” and you can easily find self-application technology for muscle stimulation or ultrasound that is, in addition to being inexpensive, easy for patients to access and use!

Now I may surprise you here. I’m going to propose that these innovations are a good thing.

HARNESSING SELF-CARE TECHNOLOGY
“But it’s taking away from my business!”… only if you don’t innovate, continuously survey the needs of your patients / clients and upgrade your knowledge and skills. As Darwin said (and my wife reiterates to me frequently), “Adapt, or die.”

David Siegel, author of The Power of Pull, contrasted the current system in medicine – where the doctor is the centre of care, generating revenues for hospital employees (whether or not the patient’s health improves) and reporting to insurance companies (where doctors may game the coding to improve reimbursement) – to a system of standardized protocols, monitoring via technology/body-worn devices and integrated pharmacist counsel. This latter system ensures patient adherence to protocols and pharmaceutical compliance, better patient monitoring, a reduction in office visits and resources used, and observable patterns and learning opportunities. These opportunities may direct research, develop better methodology and protocols, and generate effective health-care policy. In a study of this integrated system by Kaiser Permanente, patient satisfaction goes way up and office visits to the physician are reduced by 26 per cent. By integrating health services and technology, and including the patient in the solution, we can free up physicians to see more critical patients.

Eric Topol presents, on TedMed, a vision of the near future in monitoring vital signs, health and morbidity factors. General Electric has developed a handheld ultrasound that can, among other functions, screen for breast disease. Topol describes how our smartphones will transmit information such as heart rate, blood pressure, fluid status, medication compliance, continuous glucose levels, sleep patterns and even posture from small devices worn on the body. This information can be sent to our physician, the lab, the pharmacist and others in the health network. Personal metrics such as energy consumption and expenditure can be tracked, monitored and changed as needed. Massage therapy will have more opportunity to prove efficacy with such metrics monitoring and measuring changes to lifestyle interventions.

PRACTITIONERS – AND TEACHERS
With our aging population, challenging work conditions and ever-increasing array of stressors, people need to self-apply measures that will bring relief. They still need the professionals for the sophisticated interventions, and those professionals can gain greater trust and respect from patients / clients by acting not just as practitioners… but as teachers. Teach people how to soothe themselves; empower them to modulate their symptoms, and we can rise above the dependence/ignorance-based health-care model largely dominating now.

If you really want to help as many people as possible, make them less reliant on you and more autonomous in their health care. They will reward you with more work – as many aspire to higher levels of self-awareness and wellness – and more referrals to their friends, family and co-workers.


Don Dillon is the author of Better Business Agreements: A Guide for Massage Therapists and the self-study workbook Charting Skills for Massage Therapists. Don has lectured in seven provinces and many of his articles have appeared in industry publications including Massage Therapy Canada, Massage Therapy Today, AMTA Journal, Massage Magazine (on-line), Massage Today (US), AMTWP Connections, Massage Therapist (Australia) and various massage school and professional association newsletters.
Visit his website, www.MTCoach.com.


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