Medical massage degree programs are slightly different from traditional massage therapy school programs, although many of the same techniques and methods will likely be included in either type of program. This massage is designed to treat specific medical conditions that have been diagnosed by a qualified physician, while traditional massage is more medical and does not require medical supervision. While relaxation may come about as the result of this massage, it is not the main intention. The degree programs that prepare massage therapists for work alongside medical professionals as part of a treatment team reflect these differences in their coursework.
Getting a Massage Degree or Certificate
Before you can work as a medical massage therapist, you must complete a degree or certificate program, and depending on which state you live in, you may also be required to become professionally registered through the passage of a controlled exam. Most medical massage therapists complete an additional certificate in medical massage in addition to the coursework that already take for a traditional massage therapy degree, while others complete a graduate degree in medical massage after completing their undergraduate degree in massage or physical therapy. Whiche route you take, it is important to choose an accredited program; otherwise, your degree or certificate may not be viewed as legitimate proof of your skills in the professional world.
Treating Specific Conditions
All medical massage degree programs and certificate programs are different, but students can expect their education to be introduced in a more systematic approach than with traditional massage therapy programs. When focused on a specific part of the body, students will learn about the anatomy first and then focus on stimulating common conditions associated with that region. Most programs stress the following four important massage procedures for treating any condition:
– Decreasing inflammatory joints or muscles
– Restoring soft tissues to their normal balance
– Helping the patient regain normal ranges of motion
– Following up treatment with additional work as needed
The pathology of each disease or condition will vary, but the associated massage techniques will typically follow these steps in any case.
During the course of a medical massage degree or certificate program, students will learn about anatomy, massage technique, pathology, physiology and treatment approaches. In addition to western medicine, students may learn about herbal medicines, hot and cold packs, infrared lamps, vibration devices and other alternative healing techniques. Graduates of these programs find work in chiropractic offices, health care clinics, hospitals and, sometimes, their own private practices.