The unique opportunities for massage therapy students at Globe University – Wausau continued throughout Fall quarter 2014. Recently, a graduate of Globe University – Wausau’s massage therapy program visited the special populations class to share her experience as a graduate working in the field, and the incredible insight she has gained from working with a very special client.
Lori Hindman is an LMT with her own massage therapy business – Healing Touch from Heaven, LLC, in Mosinee, Wisconsin. One of the reasons Lori pursued massage therapy as a career is because of her strong desire to help her disabled brother and others facing similar challenges. In her practice, Lori focuses primarily on clients with disabilities. Lori’s brother has been in a wheelchair for 20 years.
Lori and her brother visited our special populations class to share their insights about the challenges and benefits of massage for the disabled client.
Observing the communication between Lori and her brother while moving to and from the massage table made an impression on the class. Holly Rajski said, “Before this demonstration, I could only imagine the thought and planning it takes to assist someone onto the massage table from a wheelchair. This demonstration showed us the importance of proper body mechanics on the part of the therapist and the importance of shared communication throughout the transition. It’s also important to think outside the box; not all clients in wheelchairs are going to share the same disabilities and we will have to be creative in finding a solution to fit the needs of each person.”
After the demonstration, the class practiced by role playing both the massage therapist with a disabled client and taking the role of the disabled client. This portion of the class definitely made an impact on these students.
Jolene Kinney said, “When I was in the wheelchair being assisted, it really made me understand how difficult not being able to use your legs would be. When I had to assist the disabled client, it also made me have a better understanding of how difficult it can be for the client, and that as the massage therapist, we have to do everything possible to make them feel comfortable and make it easier on them.”
Hattie Mallek observed, “I had a bit of an advantage when it came to understanding the point of view of a disabled client. There was a time about four years ago when I didn’t have very controlled use of my lower body after a surgery on my lower back. I had to rely on someone to help me in and out of bed and to turn over. For a brief time, I experienced what it was like to need that extra help. I knew what it was like for my body to not function like it was supposed to. Even with this experience, I can only imagine what my life would be like if I lost the mobility in my lower body permanently. In a small way, this role play helped everyone see how different life is with a physical disability.”
Lori and her brother also talked about the benefits of massage for the disabled person. Through their insight, the class was able to understand how beneficial it is for a disabled person like Lori’s brother to have regular massage therapy. Hattie noted, “With Lori and her brother sharing their experiences and thoughts about the treatments, we were able to understand just how important massage is to a disabled client. Massage therapy can make all the difference in the world to them. Having a physical disability puts so much extra stress on the body, and having a lack of mobility can quickly lead to a buildup of additional issues in the body. Because of this, the work we do as massage therapists can be vital to the quality of life of a disabled client.”
The class agreed that meeting Lori and her brother and learning from their experience was something that would certainly help them as they prepare for their careers as massage therapists. Maurice Steffens stated this simply when he said, “We learned some very valuable information in this class. I am very grateful for this presentation; it was inspiring and we learned some necessary concrete material.”
Hattie and Jolene agreed. Hattie continued, “I definitely understand the importance of this experience we had in class. If anyone can benefit from massage therapy, it is someone with a physical disability.” Jolene added, “All clients are different and will need different assistance. Being able to always think about what will be most beneficial to my client will help me to be able to treat them most effectively and assist them in ways that are comfortable for them.”
Lori enjoyed the experience as well. She said, “Being able to provide this kind of help to people like my brother is why I chose this career. I know that I am able to really make a difference in the quality of life for my clients. I am glad to be able to share some of the experience I have with the students, and I hope they will find this kind of satisfaction in their careers.”