"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
I have been perpetually interested in research throughout my career. Even as an adult learner before pursuing teaching or higher level education, I have a passion for delving into conceptual reasoning, developing a research question, and finding the answers to solve the riddle. I have completed a few research projects, and some have thankfully been published. My thirst for knowledge and my drive to finding new discoveries will continue as a part of my professional development process. In addition, I am an advocate for research in my profession as well, serving as a Vice President of the Massage Therapy Foundation.
Current industry data suggests that the rise in occupational injuries for massage therapists is contributing to a significant number leaving the profession after a few short years. While many massage therapists are taught methods for proper body mechanics and self-care within their educational programs, there are few consistencies in the theoretical approaches to these concepts even though it is a required component in massage therapy career training. This study demonstrates a measurable and effective teaching method using a combination of experiential and transformative learning theory models and authentic ergonomics measurement tools to teach effective body mechanics in entry level career training that may be sustainable for new massage therapists entering the field. Four cohorts of students were studied using a mixed methods time series experimental design. A pre- and post-test was conducted using industry standard ergonomics risk factor assessment tools as measurable data for score comparison to denote improvements in each student's risk factor tendencies and provide evidentiary support of learning transfer. Between the pre- and post-test, students participated in a series of experiential learning exercises during the semester and completed two reflection journals discussing their experiences. The results showed that there was a statistically significant reduction in ergonomics risk factor scores for all students studied. The success of this study demonstrates the effectiveness of the instructional design for teaching proper body mechanics to massage therapy students which can be adopted into universally accepted curriculum on many levels and could eventually contribute to reduction of occupational injury in the future.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the occupational outlook for massage therapists is very positive yet despite this trend, turnover is high, positions are prevalent, and enrollment in massage therapy schools across the country is at an all-time low. This does not compute given the circumstances. Throughout my coursework I had focused my research on the educational components. It occurred to me that looking at the status of the workforce also has an impact on adult education and training programs in how they may be structured and designed. There has been much discussion in the massage therapy realm about what should be our entry-level educational standard and how to establish ease of license reciprocity across state lines. The national licensure exam required by all entering professionals to pass in all states has an average passing rate of 67%. Moreover, massage therapists are desiring to be considered allied health professionals, yet they do not have an equitable level of education to their counterparts in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, and others. This white paper takes a look at the current state of the workforce and compares it to our neighboring country of Canada to determine potential avenues to improving the status quo as it relates to massage therapy education standards and framework nationwide. This paper has not been published but after completing some more research on this topic, I may submit for publication in the future.
This project had a profound impact in my professional journey as an educator in a different way than my formal research study did; it literally changed the perspective I originally had when I began teaching, which was based on the framework document called the Entry Level Analysis Project or ELAP. When I began teaching and learned about specialized accreditation, the highest quality massage schools in the nation and renown textbook authors whom I respected greatly for their work all indoctrinated the ELAP. Now as I had gained some knowledge on educational learning theory, I wanted to see how it was applied for my own profession. I was shocked at my discoveries similar to how a child figures out the myth of the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. In delving into this 500+ page blueprint and corresponding 250+ page rationale report, I discovered there were some real flaws with some of the educational connections made and in its instructional design. I realize that the development of the ELAP was no small task and I am sure took many of months of research and writing to accomplish; however, due to this awakening, it provides a significant piece to solving the entry-level massage therapy education dilemma the profession is currently facing. In my professional option, the ELAP is due for revision and needs to be examined and updated by subject matter experts with formal training in education. My goal is to utilize this document as supporting evidence to create a task force to update the ELAP in the near future.
Cultural competency is a required continuing education element for all active Maryland massage therapists. Over the years of license renewals, this topic has been glossed over and not presented well as a continuing education course. Moreover, since massage therapists are wanting to be more readily considered allied health professionals, the need to update cultural awareness and ethical training to reflect what is expected in the health care arena is warranted. This theory-into-action research project discusses the current resources available, the intended goals for expansion of cultural competency in the massage therapy workplace in all practice settings, and the proposal of creating new educational sources to address these needs. This paper has not been published; however, it will be used as structural support for continuing education offerings. I am in the process of obtaining my continuing education provider license so that I can offer other workshops for invitation of presentation at state, regional, and national meetings and conventions. I am also considering online course development as well.
Objective: This study considered the efficacy of causing positive systemic effects translating into sustained periods of symptomatic remission in the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for a recently diagnosed patient.
Methods: The study subject reported RA complications with pain-related symptoms in the right shoulder, forearm and index finger. Over a 10-week period, the subject received 8 therapeutic massage sessions; 7 were weekly and one was at a 3 week interval. Each session lasted for 1 to 1½ hours and was mainly comprised of Swedish and myofascial techniques to the musculature surrounding the right glenohumeral joint with an additional specific hand massage protocol and light friction strokes in the right antecubital region to encourage lymph flow.
Results: At the third weekly session, the client reported experiencing no pain or discomfort. This period of non-flare up and absence of pain continued through the remainder of the study period, even with a longer 3 week duration between sessions at the end of the 10 weeks. The client also noted that no pain medication other than her weekly Methotrexate dosage was taken throughout the duration of the study and that she obtained a better quality of sleep and daily activity.
Conclusion: Therapeutic massage treatments, while able to achieve qualitative muscle release in an affected joint region, can also positively affect the physiological systems of a patient with RA and help to alleviate and prolong the deteriorating effects of the disease.