A Sanctuary of Healing

image Baby feet in handsWhen Angie Patrick’s daughter, Olivia, was born prematurely at 24 weeks, she weighed just 1 pound, 11 ounces. She struggled to survive her first few weeks of life, experienced renal failure and fought to maintain her body temperature.

“My heart was lying in that incubator,” Patrick recalls. “To watch her dwindling was a slow, horrible thing to watch.”

Patrick convinced Olivia’s physicians to allow her family and qualified friends to massage the infant. The results, Patrick says, were profound.

“Her doctors were not real encouraged with her progress, and then they allowed us to touch her—and it just seemed like that turned the tide,” Patrick says. “As soon as she was able to have the loving touch of her parents and healing touch of my friends who would come over and do infant massage on her, she just began to blossom. I know the power of touch firsthand.”

Today Olivia is a happy 31/2-year-old who is expected to be caught up, in terms of learning ability, to her age group by the time she is 6 years old.

Patrick is director of massage business development and massage product management for Scrip Companies, a supplier of massage, chiropractic and rehabilitation supplies. In her role within the massage field, Patrick has found an opportunity to contribute to the organizations that conduct research into the benefits of massage therapy on premature infants and other client populations. She coordinates an event termed Sanctuary at major massage conferences, which raises money for the Touch Research Institutes (TRI) and the Massage Therapy Foundation.

At this year’s Florida State Massage Therapy Association convention, held in Orlando, Florida, June 27 through July 1, the Sanctuary area in the exhibit hall featured massage students from Florida Metropolitan University providing foot massages, foot scrubs and hot-stone therapy to the feet. Clients paid $10 to receive a 10-minute session.

The event raised $6,140 for TRI. Event sponsors Bon Vital Massage Products; Core Products; Earthlite Massage Tables; George Skaroulis, Evzone Music; MASSAGE Magazine; Massage Today; and Roz Zollinger’s The Heal Center each contributed $500.

“[TRI Director Tiffany Field, Ph.D.] said [the donation] will go a long way toward buying a bone-density machine,” Patrick said, “to test the bone density on these preemies before they are given touch and after they are given touch.”

A raffle at Take My Registration's FSMTA booth raised an additional $1,422 for TRI.

The next Sanctuary event will be held at the American Massage Therapy Association’s annual convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, in September and will benefit the Massage Therapy Foundation.

—Karen Menehan