From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Research: Massage Therapy Decreases Pain Among Care Workers,” in the May 2009 issue. Article summary: When complementary industries align to deliver health and wellness, the result can be a better, faster recovery and a healthier population.

by Donald Dillon

When complementary industries align to deliver health and wellness, the result can be a better, faster recovery and a healthier population. Health care, fitness and corporate wellness initiatives contributed to our industry’s growth in the first place. In economic times like these, it makes a lot of sense (and cents) to align with these industries to encourage productive, healthy workers.

In a 2003 survey conducted by the American Hospital Association on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), 82 percent of hospitals utilizing CAM included massage therapy as a form of treatment for patients. An article in the Los Angeles Times reports:

“Hospitals and medical clinics around the United States are beginning to integrate massage into patient care. Massage is currently the most common non-traditional therapy offered in U.S. hospitals, according to an American Hospital Association survey in 2003. The most common uses for massage in hospitals: helping patients cope with pain and stress, and as a therapeutic service for cancer and maternity patients.”

As governments open the door to a parallel private and public health-care delivery system, there may be more opportunities for massage therapists to work in the mainstream medical system.

What about big business? With manufacturing declining, jobs lost and extended health-care benefits taking a hit, practitioners may look to workplace wellness as the new funding source.

Michael Leahy, chiropractor and originator of Active Release Techniques (ART), found many large companies embrace the idea of using effective on-site intervention to lower employee rehabilitation and compensation costs while improving their bottom line.

Leahy bypassed the contentious health-care funding and went straight to corporations to convince them of the savings. “Traditionally, physicians groups negotiate contracts by cutting their fees. We feel that ART already saves companies a tremendous amount of money, so we do not reduce our rates to acquire business. We focus on savings through outcomes.”

One company cited an 81-percent reduction in worker’s compensation costs.

“The ART program was recognized by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor) as the best practice for treating strain/sprain injuries as a preventative measure,” one director cited.

Fitness, competitive sports and the anti-aging industry are complementary industries that serve the same markets as the alternative health-care profession. Doctor Julia Alleyne, in her article “Welcome to Wellness: An Opportunity for Fitness and Medicine posits,” said “Perhaps the time has come to connect the fitness and health-care industry together in a joint action plan of education, service delivery and preventative medicine.”

She continued, “I would like to see a wellness package that includes a monthly fee for health services that would be used over the year for prevention, performance or treatment. A wellness coordinator would meet with all clients and set out a plan for achieving an improved state of health and wellness over the year. Services, such as massage therapy, dietary consultations, injury prevention assessments, stress management strategies and ergonomic assessments, are a few of the gems that would be included in the package. A seamless transition from fitness to health and back again.”

Who can we align with to meet our objectives? What would partners gain in aligning with us? By aligning with complementary industries, we may be able to get more work done, faster, at proportionately less cost.

Don Dillon, R.M.T., is the author of Better Business Agreements and the self-study workbook Charting Skills for Massage Therapists. More than 60 of his articles have been published in industry publications, including Massage Therapy Canada, Massage Therapy Today, AMTA Journal, MASSAGE Magazine (www.MASSAGEmag.com), AMTWP Connections, Massage Therapist (Australia) and various massage school and professional association newsletters. Dillon’s website, www.mtcoach.com, provides a variety of resources for massage therapists.

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