B.C. health ministry issues changes to massage therapy regulation

Massage therapy no longer a ‘restricted activity’
Mari-Len De Guzman
May 12, 2015
By
British Columbia’s Ministry of Health has made amendments to the province’s Health Professions Act pertaining to the massage therapy profession.
The amendments, contained in Ministerial Order M102, revised the definition of “massage therapy” under section 1 of the Massage Therapists Regulation, B.C. Reg. 28012008. Under the amendment, massage therapy is defined as “the health profession in which a person provides, for the purposes of developing, maintaining, rehabilitating or augmenting physical function, or relieving pain or promoting health, the services of:
(a) assessment of soft tissue and joints of the body, and
(b) treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction, injury, pain and disorders of soft tissue and joints of the body by manipulation, mobilization and other manual methods.

The new amendments also repealed section 5 of the regulation, which essentially removes massage therapy from being a “restricted activity.” This means non-registrants may now perform massage therapy.  However, according to the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC), non-registrants are still prohibited from using reserved titles, which include: registered massage therapist, massage therapist, registered massage practitioner, and massage practitioner.

Section 6 of the Massage Therapists Regulation has also been repealed and replaced with a new provision on “limits or conditions on services.” The new provision states that no registrant may prescribe or administer drugs or anaesthetics, treat a recent fracture of a bone, apply any form of medical electricity, or move a joint of the spine beyond the limits the body can voluntarily achieve using a high velocity, low amplitude thrust.

“The Ministry of Health has specifically advised the College that low level laser therapy is a prohibited form of medical electricity that must not be performed by registrants,” the CMTBC said in a post on its website.

However, while the term “medical electricity” has yet to be defined by government, the CMTBC has taken the position that electric heating pads, electric blankets, the “Thumper”, and infrared therapy are all permissible.

Changes to B.C.’s massage therapy regulation are part of the provincial government’s initiative to implement a new “shared scope of practice/restricted activities regulatory mode under the Health Professions Act,” guided by the recommendations contained in the 2001 report by the Health Professions Council titled, "Safe Choices: A New Model for Regulating Health Professions in British Columbia."

The CMTBC explains what this initiative means to massage therapy professionals in the province: “Registrants may begin to notice more non-registrants offering to provide ‘massage therapy’ services, which is now permissible under the legislation. While the College will no longer accept unauthorized practice complaints, it will continue to accept and process complaints regarding the unauthorized use of protected titles.

“Given that the application of medical electricity and high amplitude low velocity thrusts to the spine have always been outside the scope of massage therapy, the amended regulation should not have any perceptible impact on registrant’s daily practice.”

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