2014 -Research: The way to mow down massage misconceptions

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By Erika Kruger Building and maintaining ones own practice can become an all-consuming activity revolving around the business aspects thereof. This often leaves very little time to stay abreast of the latest research in the massage field. Professional bodies offset this dilemma by managing compulsory continued professional development programmes and the launch of such a programme by the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa for massage therapists seems to be imminent. But until then we are left to our own devices to research the newest developments in our chosen field. Thanks to modern technology, information is more accessible than ever before but it takes some practice to find ones way on the World Wide Web. Knowing that I regularly surf the Internet to find information for the blog Ingelyf / Somatalk and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/121493759109/) which I administer for the Massage Therapy Association SA, the editor of In Touch asked me to share with the readers what I come across in this column. The aim is not to regurgitate what is available on the Internet or in print. After all, reading the primary source is a fundamental principle of critical reading and the research process. In this column I would like to guide the readers to interesting and noteworthy developments directly and indirectly related to massage. We have to always keep in mind that no single research study offers the final answer to a question or problem. Theory is build up bit by bit and a hypothesis is only considered the most valid explanation for a phenomenon once the experiment which originally ‘proved’ it, has been repeated successfully by other researchers. It is thus vital that as health professionals we foster our skills of discrimination and critical evaluation when reading for research. Too often I still read outdated, unproven and unsubstantiated ‘facts’ in popular magazine articles and wellness websites spewed out by practitioners of a plethora of scientifically validated and not-validated therapies. More often these half-truths and blatant lies are repeated as gospel by patients. I make a point of mowing down these massage myths and misinformation as part of the informed consent process. There are stories like the one about a rubdown that can clear (unspecified) toxins from the body and the compulsory glass of water offered after a massage that assists in flushing it out. Or what about the tale about massaging the feet and ankles of pregnant women can lead to a miscarriage? I am sure you too have heard the one about the no-pain-no-gain approach being the only effective way of doing things. And then there is my all-time favourite: Massage can get rid of cellulite! Oh wouldn’t all of us have been wonderfully...

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Why doesn’t MTA recommend that the current two-year qualification be retained

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1. The two-year qualification that was submitted to NSB 09 for evaluation in 2005 was not approved. 2. Further to this MTA has taken cognisance of the Council Registration Examination (CRE) Feedback Report, made available to the professional association and providers in December 2007, where it was indicated that prospective TM therapists have a below average to poor pass rate at the CRE’s. Consistent areas of weaknesses were revealed to be: Poor clinical reasoning and reflexive thinking skills Little evidence of adequate pathophysiology knowledge Underdeveloped patient assessment and problem-solving skills Lack of awareness of cautions/considerations and contra-indications of therapeutic massage therapy Deficiency of knowledge of the biomechanical relationships between primary body systems targeting by TMT treatment i.e. neuromusculoskeletal, cardiovascular and integumentary systems These findings indicate that there exists a substantial gap between the exit of training and the expectations of the AHPCSA for registration. 3. Since evidence-based health care requires that therapists treat towards a predetermined outcome arrived at through a process of clinical reasoning, it explicitly implies that the therapist is able to justify their course of action. The CRE report supports MTA’s position that the current level of training requires upgrading. 4 Since the identified areas of weakness forms part of the ‘stock in trade’ tools of TMT, MTA has recommended that the qualification type selected should adequately ensure that training addresses the identified deficiencies. 5. MTA has benchmarked TMT training internationally at three...

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Who are the stakeholders?

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Therapeutic massage and the National Qualifications Framework: Who are the stakeholders? Stakeholders include: All Therapeutic Massage Therapists Professional associations such as MTA as representative of the therapists Training providers Patients who require treatments that are evidence-based,  appropriate, safe and ethical The wider community who requires the availability and access to all options of treatment in the national health system Other health professionals who must be able to rely on colleagues Academia who jealously guard standards of education and benchmarking with appropriate professions – physiotherapists, dietetics, biokinetics State departments and statutory councils e.g. Departments of Health and Education and the AHPCSA. Trade organisations e.g. Board of Healthcare...

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Which is the most appropriate for TMT

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MTA has opted for the professional degree at 480 credits as the most suitable qualification type for the following reasons: The first mention of a professional qualification in the HEQF is a professional degree. This implies that     qualifications that precede the professional degree are either skills-based qualifications (e.g. certificate), traders qualifications (e.g. diploma) or academic qualifications (e.g. undergraduate degree that leads to further study). The professional degree on the other hand leads directly into a career e.g. registering as a TM therapist. The professional degree offers a vertical learning pathway leading to a Masters Degree and progressing to a doctorate allowing for research opportunities and the development of the profession. The complexity of learning at the exit of a professional degree requires the candidate to have attained the ability to function at a higher intellectual level, to act professionally and ethically and to be independently responsible and accountable for his / her own decisions and actions. A professional degree benchmarks with other professional qualifications in that lead to independent practice such as professional nursing, dietician, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The titles used by such professionals are Mr, Mrs orMs. All of the abovementioned statutory recognised health qualifications define the sector norm for independent practice as a health professional but do not use the designation Doctor. These professions are also not diagnostic in nature, and compare favourably with TMT as the scopes of practice pertaining to the professions require the health professional to take a case history and carry out a thorough patient assessment to determine the required treatment regimen. The professional degree will open doors to the training of TMT in public higher education institutions which will, in turn address transformation issues. State funded subsidies, bursaries and study loans will become available to prospective learners who are unable to afford the costs of private training. Currently the TMT register indicates  that the profession is poorly transformed. Training in public higher education institutions will ensure that ongoing research is undertaken. This contributes to professional continued development of the profession. In making the important decision to support the upgrade to a professional degree qualification, the professional association took into consideration where massage therapy has come from (the informal, leisure and recreation industry) and where the profession finds itself today (a registered health profession). Most importantly however is the question of where the profession wishes to position itself in the future. Besides the sound educational considerations explained before, MTA has embraced this opportunity as another step towards achieving the vision members set for the organisation and the profession that it represents namely a caring, humane and equitable society in which all South Africans have access to affordable, good quality therapeutic massage therapy provided by public...

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What does it mean to be a professional

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The term professional is applied to describe a person (or the work of such a person) with the following attributes: service orientation, making expertise available to others, based on a distinctive body of knowledge and skills underpinned by abilities and values, autonomy in performing working within defined boundaries, public recognition of the authority of the practitioner by virtue of working to ethical standards and being accountable.  (http://www.ee.wits.ac.za/~ecsa/gen/g-04.htm#Articulation) A health profession therefore implies: A specialist knowledge base and extensive training based on theory construction and research. An increase in expert and referent power leading to a change in the status of the therapist. Increased autonomy for quality of clinical performance. Higher levels of integrity, professional self-regulation, accountability, reasoned action and principles, self-knowledge and critical reflection. Increased accountability and responsibility to the public as well as official structures and A broadened notion of service to the...

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