Globe University Massage Student Helps Treat Teen with Rare Disease

Fun and outgoing is how many people would describe 14-year-old Chris. Most teens only have the anticipation of entering high school, but not Chris. He is looking forward to both entering high school and his surgery to help correct a rare disease he has called Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI).

Heather working on Chris.

Heather working on Chris.

OI is a genetic disorder characterized by bones that break easily, often from little or no apparent cause. A classification system of different types of OI is commonly used to help describe how severely a person with OI is affected. For example, a person may have just a few or as many as several hundred fractures in a lifetime, according to OI Foundation.

Globe University-Woodbury Massage Therapy student Heather Rasmussen had the opportunity to get to know and treat Chris through massage therapy. Unfortunately, there is still no cure for OI, but there are ways to help Chris live a better life through both his surgery and treatments such as massage therapy.

“It was such a privilege working with Chris because his bones can break so easily, he was understandably apprehensive about anyone working on him. He taught me a lot about OI and reaffirmed my belief that massage is good for everyone,” Heather said. “I am looking forward to working with this amazing young man again soon!”

According to the OI Foundation, people with OI are encouraged to exercise as much as possible to promote muscle and bone strength, which can help prevent fractures.

“Massage therapy can help a person both physically and mentally,” said Globe’s Massage Therapy Program Chair, Denise Radcliffe. “Massage can relax muscle tissue, which may lead to decreased nerve compression, increased joint space, and range of motion. Massage also helps lead people to a state of relaxation.”

Every student in the massage therapy program will take a special populations class to help teach them how to handle cases like Chris. The focus of the class is the critical thinking skills needed to design an individualized treatment plan to meet a client’s specific needs. Students learn and discuss the unique considerations for treating special populations, including older adults, persons with disabilities, terminal illnesses, infants and women in pregnancy.

We wish Chris good luck on his surgery and to have a fantastic school year!