Healthcare and Massage Therapy

President Barack Obama signed historic healthcare reform last week, ending a yearlong debate over exactly how the U.S. healthcare system should be reformed. What does this mean for massage therapists?

Not too much apparently.

As reported, the American Massage Therapy Association is trying to promote massage therapy as an integrative medical solution and, in doing so, it has taken part in symposia and meetings regarding healthcare reform and what it will mean for those in the medical field. The AMTA saw two problems in getting massage therapy a larger place in the integrative healthcare field through the latest reform effort in Washington.

The first problem applies to all in the healthcare field and that is that this latest healthcare reform focused more on increasing people’s access to healthcare and not the type of healthcare provided.

The second problem, one much more specific to massage therapy, is that often massage therapy is not thought of as a valid medical option, despite many studies and reports showing that it is (for example, click here for a recent report about massage therapy’s effectiveness in treating asthma symptoms among children, and click here for our report on how massage therapy helps cancer patients, among many others).

The AMTA says that it will take a lot of work to get massage therapy recognized in the healthcare world, and that this work will come in the form of studies demonstrating massage therapy’s medicinal benefits, building relationships with healthcare organizations so that this research will be presented and heard, and developing a more comprehensive licensing system for massage therapists.

Obviously this will take time, but the article notes that the fields of acupuncture and chiropractic therapy now are seen as contributors to integrative healthcare, whereas before they weren’t. And while some think that escalating medical costs will force patients to alternative forms of medicine like massage therapy, hopefully, with a little more research and effort, massage therapy will become substantive part of the larger integrative healthcare field.

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