Decreased suffering and increased quality of life are the motivations behind a new massage program at a leading Michigan hospital system.

“It seems to be very comforting to the patients,” says massage therapist Wendy Woerner, of the University of Michigan Health System’s massage program. “We’re able to give them relief from their anxiety, pain and tension. With our care patients receive a warm, nurturing touch.”

Program coordinator Tracy King emphasizes the importance of creating a “high touch” healing environment that compliments their current medical treatment at the U-M. “Our ultimate goal is to decrease patients suffering and enhance their quality of life,“ she says.

Therapists work directly with the patients’ physician to ensure that massage therapy is appropriate during their time of treatment. Research has shown massage helps patients with pain and anxiety after major surgery. Other research showed massage reduces cancer patients’ symptoms, including pain, anxiety, nausea, fatigue and depression.

“I had headaches and a lot of pain in my back and sides, and the massage therapist helped a lot,” says Stacy Sanders of Fenton, Mich., who received massages following his open-heart surgery at
U-M’s Cardiovascular Center.