One of the most common reasons we hear people say they are interested in a career in massage therapy is that they want a career that helps people. This series will look at how massage therapy can help, what we as therapists refer to as, special populations.

This article will cover oncology massage, senior massage and hospice massage.

How Massage Therapists Can Help Cancer Patients

In the past, massage was considered unsafe for oncology patients. Today, the massage and medical communities agree there are numerous benefits massage can offer an individual with cancer.

If you are interested in a career that helps cancer patients, as massage therapist, you can:

  • Improve the cancer patient’s quality of life.
  • Improve their ability to sleep.
  • Reduce their stress and anxiety.
  • Reduce swelling and improve circulation.
  • Help manage their chronic pain.
  • Improve tolerance of treatment side effects including numbness and nausea.

In addition to basic massage therapy training, you will need a course that teaches you to modify traditional western massage techniques for cancer patients.

Jennifer Ashton is a massage therapist who coordinates Mount Sinai’s Dubin Breast Center in New York City.

Lauterstein-Conway Massage School offers a program for massage licensing as well as regular continuing education programs for those interested in helping people through oncology massage.

How Massage Therapists Can Help Seniors (or Mature Adults)

As people age, they start to have an increasing number of physical problems that massage therapy is perfectly suited to address. From minor aches and pains or more complicated health issues, massage therapists can help seniors stay active well into their later years.

If you are interested in helping one of the largest special populations, with massage therapy you can:

  • Improve the individual’s quality of life.
  • Improve their ability to sleep.
  • Relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Relieve depression and loneliness.
  • Reduce aches and pains associated with aging.
  • Restoration of mobility.
  • Improve circulation.
  • Aid in relaxation.

It is helpful to have additional massage education if you want to help seniors or mature adults, though many basic massage techniques can be easily adapted for these individuals.

Mary Duval is a licensed massage therapist and instructor who specializes in working with this population. She points out the difference between geriatric massage and working with an aging demographic that is often still very active.

Every therapist trained at Lauterstein-Conway Massage School receives coursework on special populations including this one. The School also offers continuing education programs on this topic.

How Massage Therapists Can Help People at the End of Their Lives

Whether the life comes to an end due to illness or age, massage therapists can help those nearing death, as well. Often times, this work falls into the category of hospice massage.

Massage therapists who want to help others in this life stage will focus on making the patient’s life as comfortable as possible.

If you are interested in helping the dying, with massage therapy you can:

  • Relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Relieve depression and loneliness.
  • Reduce aches and pains associated with aging.
  • Reduce the need for pain medications.
  • Promote relaxation and a sense of peace.

Additional training is recommended before you work with clients at the end of their life.

The Brooklyn Ladies (or MJHS) offers home care, end of life care and palliative care. Here is one of their patients post-massage talking about her experience.

Lauterstein-Conway Massage School periodically offers continuing education programs for those interested in helping people through hospice massage.

Contact us to learn more about how you can help people through your work as a massage therapist.