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Massage Helps Brain-Injured Patients

Christina Biedermann fought for more than nine months to gain a volunteer position as a massage therapist for the Hahn-Hufford Center of Hope in Piqua, Ohio, one of only five neurological rehabilitation centers in the United States.

Her work encompasses those clients suffering from stroke and traumatic brain damage from car and other accidents, as well as birth defects that affect the neurological system.

“As a massage therapist and volunteer, I get the privilege of witnessing love and hope every day,” Biedermann says. “The media shows us how horrible the world is, but I get to spend my days with families who sacrifice, pray and work hard to help their loved ones recover from catastrophic brain injuries and remain thankful. And every now and then, I get to witness a little miracle or two.”

The 34-year-old completed her studies at the Dayton School of Medical Massage in 2005 and became licensed with the Ohio Medical Board in July of that year. She began work at Serenity Medical Massage in Sydney, Ohio, and in May 2006 was accepted as a volunteer for the center.

“Chris is a very compassionate person,” says Carla Bertke, executive director of the center. “She offers new hope to our clients. The clients build a bond with and feel comfortable with her. I know that they see that special trait in her that says ‘I'm going to do what ever I can to help you.’”

It was Biedermann’s compassion that led her to leave a cushy technical job to pursue a career in massage therapy.

“Our household budget is tighter, but I feel that I am doing what I am supposed to do,” she says. “I truly appreciate the things that money can't buy, like time with my children, the deep connection with my clients and their families, knowing that if my practice fails or succeeds it is through my efforts. I feel more empowered and in control of my future than ever before.”

According to Bertke, Biedermann has brought the center’s massage/wellness program to a new level. “She specializes in medical massage, which I feel is important for the clientele whom we serve,” Bertke says. “No matter what type of disability, injury or illness that the client is dealing with, she has something to offer them.”

Working on someone who has suffered a brain injury or other trauma involves working in conjunction with other rehabilitation professionals and doctors, Biedermann says.

“You have to take your contribution to [patients] care very seriously and know how to communicate with other medical personnel and the caregivers,” she says. “ What each client needs is as much affected by the injury itself as the individual and the caregiver's expectations. The primary tool when working with my clients is communication.

“Many of my clients are non-vocal. Remaining focused and centered during the session are imperative to avoid injuring someone who cannot tell you that you are hurting them,” she continues “The difference you make and the little miracles you can witness. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

—Keith Loria