Massage School Student Clinics and COVID-19

Massage School Student Clinics and COVID-19

Tessa Crume, PhD, MSPH

(Note: ABMP connected with epidemiologist Tessa Crume, an associate professor in the Epidemiology Department at the Colorado School of Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, to get her expert advice on this question.)

Q: Should I open my school’s student clinic or only allow students to work on each other?

A. On a national level in the US, new cases of COVID-19 are lower than the peaks seen in March and April 2020, however the number of cases are increasing in most regions.1 Case numbers are surging in several states that were the first to reopen. While some would like to attribute these spikes to increased testing, the percentage of people testing positive and the number of hospitalizations is also increasing, making this an unlikely explanation. To find out if community spread is common in your area, the New York Times has some very nice data visualization tools that describe where new cases are increasing. 

The danger of opening your student clinic to the public is that you will be introducing considerable risk to your students. We have learned that people, particularly those who are healthy and young can be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and experience no symptoms (asymptomatic).2 This has been called “silent transmission” and contributes to community spread. In addition, empirical studies suggest that infected individuals, who will later go on to develop symptoms, are more infectious during the presymptomatic stage.3 This is very unusual for a respiratory virus and one of the reasons that SARS-CoV-2 has been so “successful” at creating a pandemic. 

Following the ABMP Back-to-Practice Guidelines regarding the pre-session health intake interview and repeating this interview when the client arrives is a best practice, however it is no guarantee. Every additional person who enters your student clinic will introduce potential risk because symptom-based screening will not detect those who are presymptomatic or asymptomatic. Most cities or municipalities do not have robust contract tracing in place to allow individuals to know if they’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. 

We all have to make challenging decisions each day about how to operate in this pandemic. Spending more than 15 minutes within 6 feet of another person in an indoor setting without a mask is considered a high-risk encounter. Thus, having students working on each other with one person not wearing a mask, for either facial work or in a prone position, would meet that criteria. Opening the clinic to the public would elevate the risk even further and I would recommend against it. To mitigate the risk of students potentially transmitting the virus to each other, I would provide frequent reminders that they should all be wearing masks properly at all times and wash their hands frequently with soap and water, while also providing lenient absence policies so they don’t feel pressure to be physically present if they are feeling sick. 

Notes

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Weekly Surveillance Summary of US COVID-19 Activity,” Accessed July 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html.

2. S. M. Moghada et al., “The Implications of Silent Transmission for the Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks,” Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences of the United States of America, accessed July 2020, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2008373117

3. X. He et al., “Temporal Dynamics in Viral Shedding and Transmissibility of COVID-19,” Nature Medicine 26 (2020): 672–75.

author bio

Dr. Tessa Crume is an associate professor in the Epidemiology Department at the Colorado School of Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her research focuses on the development and utilization of public health surveillance systems to understand the burden of disease. She has been an academic researcher since 2011, before which she worked for a decade as an applied epidemiologist at the state and federal level, analyzing surveillance data and evaluating public health impact. She has taught the core epidemiology class at the Colorado School of Public Health for nine years.

Category: 

News

Oregon Proposes External Pelvic Floor Massage Rules

The Oregon State Board of Massage Therapists proposed new massage therapy rules that would allow licensees to perform external pelvic floor massage. Submit your comments in support of, or opposition to, the rules before October 31, 2022.

Maryland Implicit Bias Training Resources

Maryland massage therapists must complete implicit bias training by October 31, 2022, to fulfill their continuing education requirements. View a list of approved training resources.

Blog

Keeping Massage Fresh for Longtime Clients

As much as we want massage therapy to be a routine, we also want it to be an intentional choice every visit because of the client’s love of the service and our care to always meet the client’s (changing) needs.

Blood, Lymph Get Pumped Thanks to Massage

Massage therapy has become a wildly expansive net that has caught, and continues to catch, a slew of methods of bodywork. You can be an authority in all sorts of approaches, spanning from myofascial release to trigger point therapy to cupping to manual lymphatic drainage. And that’s a good thing! 

Benefits

2022 ABMP CE Summit Course—MLD: Basic Techniques for the Neck and Face

Gain an understanding of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) movements and the location of important lymphatic structures as you watch Nicola McGill’s dynamic demonstration of three MLD techniques and MLD sequences for the neck and face. Learn about this important modality that, when provided effectively, can support and enhance the movement of lymph fluid through the lymphatic vessels and eventually back to the cardiovascular system.

2022 ABMP CE Summit Course—Introduction to Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a gentle, rhythmic form of bodywork that enhances and supports the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system to support health and well-being. Developed by Danish therapists Emil and Estrid Vodder in the 1930s, MLD is now practiced extensively by health and wellness practitioners and is used within the medical community to treat lymphedema and post-surgical and post-traumatic edema. Join Nicola McGill in this engaging course to learn the benefits, indications, and mechanics of this gentle, effective modality.

2022 ABMP CE Summit Course—Lymphatic System: An Essential Guide to an Underrated System

Join us for a fascinating look at the underrated lymphatic system, with special emphasis on its structures and functions. Learn the vital role each of the system’s components plays, including lymphangions, nodes, trunks, ducts, and the glorious cisterna chyli. We’ll also look at various lymphatic-related pathologies, including lymphangitis, lymphoma, cardiovascular and traumatic edema, and lymphedema.

Please note: We have recently updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Learn more...