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Practical Pathology

As a guide

As a result

Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy (MCMT) puts clients, not conditions, at the heart of every massage therapy session. It gives massage therapists a simple, straightforward system for working safely and effectively with clients facing varied health challenges. 

Practical Pathology - Interviewing ClientMCMT answers the many questions that arise in classroom and clinic, such as “What do I ask my 2:00 client with Parkinson disease?” and “How do I work with this client who is taking six medications?”  It gives clear massage pressure guidelines for a host of conditions including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. By settling these questions, the book clears a path for healing touch.

Providing a clear path through the pathology, Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy gives massage therapists a simple, straightforward system. Beginning with an overview of the condition, including symptoms and common treatments, the book then provides interview questions, massage therapy guidelines, and a decision tree, so you can customize the treatment for maximum effectiveness. Current research and possible benefits help you communicate how massage might relieve symptoms and support your clients in dealing with the condition.


Key Advantages

Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy is:

A comprehensive pathology textbook with clear instruction and a conversational tone. A source of principles from which the student can learn good clinical judgment

A well-structured, logical, and inspiring course book which can help the educator transition from an encyclopedia of medical information to a guide in decision-making and a teacher of concepts and strategies

A clear, intelligent reference book that accompanies the massage therapy practitioner in daily practice decisions and communicating with other professionals


Overview of System and Highlights

The book introduces unique, classroom- and clinic-tested tools to help therapists work confidently and purposefully with clients experiencing medical conditions.  These tools facilitate good decision making, and lead to customized massage for each individual’s special needs.

The Decision Tree.  A simple, visual roadmap for massage contraindications, the Decision Tree model divides complex medical issues into small, easier-to-solve parts.  It addresses a range of client presentations for conditions as diverse as diabetes, hypertension, and prostate cancer.  Concrete massage adjustments for each symptom, complication, and side effect are provided.

The Walton Pressure Scale (WPC).  A simple description of 5 basic massage pressure levels is offered in plain, accessible language.  The Pressure Scale specifies the best overall pressure for a certain condition, or the maximum pressure on a specific body area.  Photographs for each pressure level accompany a clear written description. The WPC is already being used in many hospital programs and clinics to improve communication among massage therapists, physicians, nurses, and clients. 

Interview Questions. Brief, purposeful interview questions are provided for each condition.  Each question is used to identify or explore a possible massage contraindication and is worded at a suitable level for students as well as experienced therapists.  Readily adaptable to the therapist’s personal style, the questions are organized for easy use in fast-paced settings.

Description of Medical Conditions and Massage Guidelines.  Each of the medical conditions featured in the book includes a concise description, with massage therapy guidelines for each sign, symptom, complication, and treatment.

Principles of Massage Contraindications. From the “Vital Organ Principle” to the “Sensation Principle,” concise standards guide practitioners as they navigate a host of conditions and a range of presentations that affect their clients. Clearly described and easy to remember, these principles take the guesswork out of complex conditions.

Massage Research. Brief reviews of available massage research on specific conditions help the therapist communicate confidently with clients and other health professionals.  An entire chapter devoted to research outlines the practical contributions and limitations of current massage research. It explains how to use research accurately when making claims about the effects of massage.

Medications and Massage.  Specific drug treatments, side effects, and corresponding massage guidelines are discussed along with each medical condition in this book. The “Medication Questions” are used to identify massage contraindications. A “Side Effects Table” (Chapter 21) is a quick reference for how to adapt massage to a client’s medications.

Therapist’s Journals. Brief, poignant stories from massage therapists reinforce concepts in each chapter. These reflections keep the client-practitioner relationship at the heart of the system.

Selected Clinical Features.  Innovative drawings illustrate how complex conditions might affect areas of the body and show what factors to consider in the massage plan.

Self Test:  A set of study questions is provided at the end of each chapter.

Online Features.  To accompany the book, a series of resources are available online including:

  • a bibliography with additional resources and research for each condition;
  • a glossary for key terms highlighted throughout the text;
  • detailed discussion and art for additional conditions;
  • answers to the Self-Test questions.

Instructor Resources.  Online, instructors can find:

  • Lesson plans with objectives and sample exercises for each chapter, including ideas for building Decision Trees in class;
  • An image bank including all Decision Trees and other illustrations;
  • Printable client intake forms and physician communication formats;
  • Printable blank Decision Trees;
  • Principles of Massage Therapy Contraindications;
  • “The Side Effects Table”--Massage Therapy Guidelines for Common Side Effects of Medications and Procedures.

Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy serves as a trusted guide that can provide immediate counsel (What do I do for my client with a blood clot history?)  and a source for strategic thinking (How can I gain confidence when I communicate with my clients and healthcare professionals about my medical questions or massage plan?).

When designing guidelines for massage therapy, Tracy Walton drew from years of researching massage effects, teaching pathology, and practicing massage therapy herself.  She created a straightforward, flexible system that’s immediately practical, no matter what the level of your experience, no matter what the focus of your practice. 

Therapists can use MCMT to better engage with their clients and touch them with intention and assurance.  Good information management and clinical decision making can be powerful tools that transform a complex, uncertain and sometimes painful situation into a healing, comforting, and even joyful experience.