U-M’s Massage Therapy Program aims to treat the whole person
When Angela Walker was diagnosed with leukemia last year, she braced herself for four weeks of inpatient chemotherapy as questions swirled in her mind about the new treatment and diagnosis.
Like many cancer patients at the Health System, the U-M Health System’s Massage Therapy Program gave Walker a much-needed respite from procedures, tests and waiting. Therapists visited her room for scheduled appointments and worked around IV poles and medical equipment to help her relieve stress. Walker credits the program as a major factor in helping her get through those difficult first weeks.
“During my treatment, it was nice to have massages on my schedule to look forward to. It was also helpful to have therapists trained in oncology massage who could coordinate directly with my medical staff about any safety concerns,” Walker says.
U-M massage therapists are trained and nationally certified in a variety of medical massages including:
- Manual lymphatic
- Sport, Deep Tissue (NMT)
- Infant Massage
- and more…
“We use a unique team approach to provide healing services in collaboration with medical care,” says Beth Miazga, CMT, director of the Massage Therapy Program.
The Massage Therapy Program is also open to U-M staff, students and the general public.
Massages can help reduce pain, anxiety and tension in patients. National studies have even showed massage therapy’s ability to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. The nationally-certified massage therapists at U-M are trained to perform a variety of medical massages.
“Massages allow for an overall improvement in wellbeing of the patient during the healing process,” Miazga says.
That healing couldn’t be more evident for Diane G. Holland. In 1998 she was diagnosed with cancer of the tonsil and began treatment with surgery and radiation therapy. The cancer recurred in 2009, requiring Holland to undergo three surgeries in eight months.
Holland came to the Massage Therapy Program seeking pain relief from the scarring she had as a result of surgery performed on previously irradiated tissue.
Chair massages are available for outpatients, families, employees and guests in the Towsley Link.
Payroll deduction for massages is available to UMHS employees.
“The scars on my neck were firm and immovable, decreased the range of motion of my neck, and made it difficult to speak and swallow – almost like I was wearing a tight dog collar,” she says.
After one myofascial massage therapy session – a technique that involves locating and releasing restrictions between connective tissue and muscles – Holland felt relief.
“I left the massage feeling fantastic,” she says.
After a year of weekly massage therapy sessions, her quality of life has completely changed.
“I have increased range of motion in my neck, my speech and swallowing have improved, I have decreased fatigue and better sleep,” Holland says. “This goes beyond just releasing muscle tension. The massages reduce my stress. With improved function, I feel much better about myself.”
“Our whole goal is to create a relaxing, spa-like environment so people can forget they are at the hospital,” says Miazga. “We do everything we can do to create a calm and healing atmosphere.”