Let’s Talk Scope of Practice

Focus on Fabulous

By Leslie A. Young
[Editor's Note]

From 60 mph to 0. Last July, I was injured in a very fast, absurd accident. My horse Roy spooked, slammed into my right shoulder, and pinned me between him and another horse. Immediately, I knew I couldn’t use my right arm.
In the days I waited to see an orthopedic specialist, I was in serious pain and really in denial about what had happened. I turned to my treasured chiropractor and a couple of talented massage therapists and pleaded for their help, telling them I probably only jammed it. They all agreed with me and proceeded to work the tissue and joint in order to loosen it up and restore range of motion.
We were all wrong. The MRI confirmed I had severely injured my rotator cuff—my supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons were entirely torn, and the intra-articular biceps tendon was partially torn. I had extensive surgery, including the installation of six anchors to reinstate the tendons. Some nine months later, I’m well on my way to restoring full range of motion and strength. I am very grateful. I have no doubt that massage will help nurture my healing shoulder for years to come, but I’ve been over-blessed with practitioners who wanted to work on my shoulder, particularly when it was much too early for postsurgical bodywork.    
We know it can be challenging for massage therapists and bodyworkers to stay within their scope of training because they are heartfelt, dedicated, and empathetic individuals. Massage therapy and bodywork, within their boundaries, are amazing, fabulous facets of a healthy lifestyle. We know this. You live this. In every session, you feel the benefits of your work through your fingertips; you can witness how therapeutic touch can empower your clients’ lives.
One of the things I know all too well after a decade of dedication to the Massage Therapy Foundation is that we don’t have enough hard research on the benefits of massage or what techniques may work better than others in a variety of circumstances. In due time—with dedicated practitioners and researchers and financing—we will have more evidence-based practice to enrich our parameters.
In the meantime, stay focused on your fabulous work. Be willing to refer out and seek allied wisdom if you’re faced with clients’ physical or psychological challenges you shouldn’t be tackling. Your clients will benefit. We at ABMP—holders of your liability insurance policy—will also breathe a sigh of relief. Fabulous is good enough.    

Leslie A. Young, PhD