VICUS.COM (12 July 2000) -- During the recent Johns Hopkins
nursing symposium, "Nursing in the New Millennium," Patricia
Grimm, Ph.D, R.N., CS-P, provided perspective and insight
into the value and contributions of massage in health care.
Grimm is a psychiatric consultation liaison nurse at the
St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md. She provides psychiatric
assessment and emotional support to patients and their families
throughout the hospital. She also provides consultation to hospital
staff in their care of patients. Vicus.com spoke with her
before the lecture.
What: "Nursing in the New
Millennium: High Tech/High Touch"
Who: The Johns Hopkins Nurses' Alumni Association
When: June 9, 2000
Where: Baltimore, Md.
Details: The Johns Hopkins Nurses'
Alumni Association offered an annual one-day
continuing-education seminar as part of homecoming weekend.
Through lectures, workshops and posters, a range of
complementary therapies were presented and discussed within
the context of modern nursing practice. Vicus.com covered the
conference and reports on massage, Traditional Chinese
Medicine (TCM) and Reiki.
The benefits of
Vicus.com: The title of your lecture today is "Massage:
The Healing Touch." I would like to ask you about this title and
your rationale for selecting it.
Grimm: I think it is accurate to say that there are
physical, mental and emotional benefits to massage. For example, there
is muscle relaxation that can be used to prevent or treat sports
injuries. Massage is associated with increased circulation of blood
flow and lymph, which can be beneficial. When massage is combined with
adequate fluid intake, there is also elimination of waste products
that result from muscle tension and discomfort.
Vicus.com: These are examples of physical benefits. How does
massage provide mental and emotional benefits to people?
Grimm: The physical relaxation that comes from massage is
accompanied by mental and emotional relaxation. This is important
because many physical diseases can be made worse by stress. Examples
include migraine, asthma, gastrointestinal upset and heart conditions,
Vicus.com: What about the power of simply touching another
Grimm: We should not underestimate the power of human,
physical, nonsexual touching. Massage meets a need we have to be cared
for. Mothers and babies develop it in terms of bonding, for example.
So, to be touched in a caring environment and in a caring way can be
emotionally satisfying and supportive.
massage in health care
Vicus.com: You are a nurse with a Ph.D, so you have a
background in science. As such, I would suggest to you that there is
not an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence in support of the
ability of massage to actually heal disease. Would you agree with that
Grimm: If we define "healing" as the elimination
of disease as a result of the specific act of massage, your statement
is true. However, when viewed from a broader perspective, if someone,
for example, is experiencing stress or anxiety related to a chronic
health condition, or as a result of going through a surgical
procedure, massage can provide complementary support in managing the
difficulties associated with the illness.
massage to health care
Vicus.com: At the community hospital where you practice, how
do you incorporate massage into the care of patients?
Grimm: At our hospital, practitioners do massage on patients
who have had open-heart surgery. Massage is also given to patients who
have had a myocardial infarction. The goal of massage therapy is to
provide physical relaxation in support of healing, postoperatively.
Vicus.com: What did it take to convince physicians and surgeons to
order massage for their patients?
|"At our hospital, practitioners do
massage following open-heart surgery .... to provide physical
relaxation in support of healing."
Grimm: Our hospital maintains an alternative/complementary
health center. It is a freestanding program. As with other innovative
services, representatives from the center met with physicians to
describe the program. At first, one or two physicians from the heart
institute at the hospital supported the concept. Since then, others
have adopted it as part of their therapeutic plan. We anticipate that
the service will expand to other areas, such as orthopedic surgery.
These patients tend to have prolonged inactivity, and massage is
useful as a passive exercise to complement their physical therapy.
Vicus.com: How did you become interested in massage?
Grimm: I was on the nursing faculty at
Johns Hopkins and was looking for something to balance my relatively
stressful academic life. I had my first massage while I was traveling
and was pleased with it. When I returned to Maryland, I spoke with
someone who became my massage therapist, and I was encouraged to
attend massage school, which I did. I became hooked on the benefits of
massage, and now it is one of the primary areas of activity for me as
I expand my professional life.
Russo Jr., PharmD, is senior vice president of medical
communications at Vicus.com. He is a pharmacist and medical writer
with more than 20 years of experience in medical education.