Reach Out and Touch the Community

Mini-spas bring mutual benefits to senior citizens and massage students

Massage Therapy students at Globe University-La Crosse organized a mini-spa experience called “Destination Relaxation” for residents of two senior communities.

According to instructor Aimee Miritello, enrollment in the class is capped at eight to ensure all students have a role in planning and conducting the events.

“The project is student run,” she said. “We really want them to own it.”

The project is a requirement of the Pregnancy and Special Populations course. The students learn about the technical aspects of reduced range of motion, muscle dysfunction, fragile skin and other factors seniors experience. The project gives students firsthand experience in serving special needs clients. Other special populations they serve include amputees, pregnant women, hospice patients and, in rare cases, clients with autism.

Massage therapy is one of the faster growing employment categories. Demand for massage therapists is expected to grow 19 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*. The aging baby boom generation and the growing acceptance of the therapeutic benefits of massage within the medical community will fuel this growth.

Miritello said this project gets students interacting with the public early so “their eyes are opened to the benefits [of massage].”

The project helps students overcome the fear of treating special populations so “at the end of it they are completely changed by the experience,” she said.

*From Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Massage Therapy http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos295.htm