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Posted by: Gabe Stewart, 25 Nov 2014 12:05AM
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Muscle atrophy

My name is Gabe from Edinburgh and this is my first query on the forum. My question is: a client asked me if massage can help her 85-year-old friend who, as a result of recent hospitalisations, has severe muscle atrophy. My initial research, and gut feeling, is that massage can only help once muscles are built up a bit first, through an exercise programme or electric therapy. I have yet to meet the lady for an initial assessment, but have been told that her "skin is hanging off her". she has had trouble getting NHS physio and for some reason she is keen to try deep tissue massage, but I just have a feeling it is inappropriate for her. What are other people's thoughts/ideas/experiences?


Linda Morrissey
25 Nov 2014 12:21AM

Gabe Stewart
25 Nov 2014 1:55PM

So sorry I awoke you!!! And many thanks for your reply. Very helpful response :)
Linda Morrissey
25 Nov 2014 6:49PM

Linda Morrissey
25 Nov 2014 6:53PM

Oooops missed a bit She will probably welcome anything you do - she will want to get back to normality - at this stage deep massage would not be good - bear in mind if she is on Warfarin or similar - she may bruise very easily and her skin will be likely to tear easily and it could be very thin thin - use a bit more oil and ensure skin isn't dragged - is any of that any help ??? Linda
Gabe Stewart
26 Nov 2014 12:01AM

JC Client treatment plan 1. meet Client for an initial assessment. Determine WHY she wants deep tissue massage. Did she have it once and it helped? Is it for relaxation? Check her current treatment plan (if any?)via physiotherapy. Confirm dates and occurrences of her various falls etc and any resulting fractures. Check her walking, have her arches fallen (how could I tell?). Check medication, warfarin? Can she lie on a table supine? Prone? Can she only sit in a chair? 2. If appropriate after consultation, on table, Use gentle Swedish massage to encourage blood circulation to the muscles. Light effleurage nothing deeper on depleted muscle tone. Plus strokes to encourage relaxation and sense of wellbeing. but nothing deeper while muscle tone is depleted. Very gentle mobilsation may also help with the feeling of becoming mobile again unless contraindicated with other co-morbidities or fractures etc. use lots of oil. if skin thin, will bruise and tear easily. If table inappropriate, then try seated reflexology, Indian head massage, especially neck, and seated calf and leg work. 3. Ask fitness personal trainer Tracy Griffen if she can construct a programme of easy simple exercise to strengthen and improve JC's muscle tone. Include regular walking or swimming if possible. Include gentle knee lifting while sitting to strengthen quads (to help with standing from sitting and moving forward). 4. check JC's diet to see if it includes enough protein for muscle development. Diet should Not be too acidic and ensure sufficient water.
Gabe Stewart
26 Nov 2014 12:03AM

Francesca Crocetta
27 Nov 2014 6:24PM

Dear Gabe, as many fellow therapists have suggested, Gentle touch is needed, encouraging blood flow to the area. Gentle skin rolling, part of Myofascial Release training, will help to allow muscle fibres to become unstuck,plenty of water to rehydrate, which in turn will allow muscles to extend, stretch and gradually build bulk. Further on in time you can incorporate cross handed stretches, again with a very slow, gentle pressure. This you could be doing already on other areas of the body. Unfortunately, wing bats (loose triceps muscles) would be very hard to regain. Once your discipline stops, mine was competitive swimming, the intensity of training requires so much hard work that most of us have to grin and accept the results!! Look at courses with the Jing institute in Brighton who offer courses in Scotland ( www.jing.com) or do a workshop at one of the shows they attend, e.g. CAM EXPO, Oct ,Olympia, London. I promise you, you will not look back, and NO! I do not have shares in the school! I wish you well, Francesca
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