What does a medical massage therapist do?
A medical massage therapist is a licensed massage therapist who treats health conditions diagnosed by a doctor. Massage therapy in medical settings is growing because the practice of combining traditional and alternative medicine is increasing. More hospitals and medical centres are offering these types of treatments and more health insurance companies will cover the cost.
Medical massages help reduce pain and stress, especially for cancer or fibromyalgia patients.
Scope of practice
A medical massage therapist works closely with doctors to treat patients who are affected by pain, illness, or injury.
Their typical day-to-day roles and responsibilities include:
- Providing massages to patients for a variety of lengths
- Using various massage techniques to manipulate muscles and soft tissue to treat chronic pain and injuries
- Listening and explaining various aspects of medical massage to patients
Their work has the specific goal to alleviate pain and treat health conditions such as neuropathy, cancer, fibromyalgia, sports injuries, or even high blood pressure.
Medical massage therapists typically work in hospitals and medical clinics. A medical massage therapist needs to be flexible to the health care environment, as there are some major differences between the work environment in a hospital or clinic setting and the work environment at a spa. For instance, you likely will be working at a patient’s bed side, navigating around medical equipment, IVs, and other obstacles. You will mostly likely be dealing with harsh lighting and may be interrupted frequently. This may be very different than the typical spa setting with a massage table in the dimly lit room with peaceful background music.
Another major difference between working in a spa or in a health care setting is that scheduling is often not as predictable in a hospital, clinic, or nursing home. You will need to work around the patient’s schedule and adjust to interruptions from the health care team or family members.
One major advantage of working as a medical massage therapist instead of as a massage therapist in a spa, is that you will not need to worry about marketing your services or scheduling clients. Patients will be referred to you by medical staff, so you can simply focus on treating your patient and not worry about business tasks. Additionally, pay is often higher for massage therapists working in a medical setting verses working in a spa.
Medical massage therapist vs. general massage therapist
The work of a medical massage therapist differs from that of a general massage therapist. Medical massage therapists have advanced training and experience that allows them to provide care focused on healing injuries, improving function, or increasing circulation. They typically work in hospitals or clinics, may receive orders from a physician as to the type of massage treatment they should give their patients, and can even be paid through the patient’s health insurance.
On the other hand, general massage therapists typically work in spas with the main goal to provide relaxation for their clients. They may use similar techniques as a medical massage therapist, and they may even be able to alleviate some pain, too. However, a general massage therapist’s main goal is not treating a medical condition, but rather reducing stress and promoting relaxation for their client.
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