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Posted by: Una Tucker, 18 May 2015 3:28PM
Please do not use the forums to advertise courses.

Massage Tools and Insurance

Hi Everybody! Do you use any supplemental tools when massaging and do your insurers know this? If so, what are their requirements for insuring you to use that tool: an accredited course, confirmation of reading all the instructional material, paying an extra 'tool-use' supplment or something else? I have been asked to write an article about this relevant topic as an 'expert' on massage tools (I designed and sell a massage tool called 'The Kneader' for both general public and professional therapist use). Recently, I gave a workshop on our new venture, which is Kneader On-Site Massage. Only Level 3 on-site therapists attended, as it was to gauge if they liked On-Site Massage with the Kneader as much as we do. Thankfully, they did and they all bought 1-2 Kneaders in preparation for our Kneader On-site Massage course, which is hopefully going to be this summer. One of the therapists contacted her insurers at CThA to make sure she was covered to use the Kneader, in the meantime, as a supplemental tool. They said she was not insured until she took an accredited course on how to use the Kneader (again, even as a supplemental tool during a standard massage treatment). This was not good news as lots of therapists have been buying and using the Kneader as a supplemental tool for several years now! What ensued was nearly two months of deliberation on the Kneader - my argument being that the product comes with a comprehensive manual and DVD and there are loads of clips and instructional material on our website and YouTube. Thankfully, the CThA insurers have been very thorough and accommodating and have now confirmed that all their therapists are insured to use the Kneader as long as they have reviewed the manual and DVD and use the tool in accordance with the product's instructional material. It's a start but this is only one insurer of many and they are all of the same view (I've checked around) - if you use a tool (any tool), you need to take an accredited course in it to be insured when using it. I have queried about 'one move' tools like Bongers, The Knobbler and Omni Ball - if a tool only does one thing, how can you warrant doing a course in it? Massage tool use is on the rise in the industry, because therapists are always looking at ways to improve their treatments and their working lives. Subsequently, how many therapists are using tools to save their hands or enhance their treatments without realising that they are not ensured to do so? It's a question that I fear a lot of therapists have not even considered and run the risk (however small) of being caught out on. I would be grateful for any input and will post the article once it is published for your consideration. In the meantime, all the very best! Una Kneads Must


Pauline Baxter
18 May 2015 8:28PM

Hi Una You're quite right in that you should always check with your insurers that they will insure you for using any massage tool. It is very easy for Therapists to purchase a number of tools and simply 'add them in' to their massage routine with no suitable training. This is exactly why we developed an appropriate course so that Therapists could be confident, safe and also insured As a Professional Therapist it is always vital that you check you can add a qualification to your insurance, whatever the course. Different insurers have different requirements so it is always worth checking you are covered before you enrol. Regards, Pauline Academy of On Site Massage
Amanda Clegg
18 May 2015 9:28PM

Hm, not sure. there is a line somewhere between a knobbler or omni-ball, widely available to the public to use themselves, and things like stones and lava shells which do require training/separate cover. I was trained to use my hands only. I now use my elbows extensively. Do I need insurance? A common sense approach is needed, and we are becoming, sadly, too litigious and lacking in trust.
Pauline Baxter
19 May 2015 8:03AM

I agree there has to be an element of common sense. However, there is a difference between the general public using a tool and a Professional Therapist using a tool as the the Therapist receives payment for what they do. Regards, Pauline
Una Tucker
19 May 2015 11:00AM

Thanks, ladies, for your replies - much appreciated and you are both right! I met Pauline a couple of years ago when she included the Kneader in the Academy of Onsite Massage's most excellent tools course, which is an extremely comprehensive one-day accredited course that features the Kneader, Bongers and the Knobbler (among others). I totally agree with Pauline and would recommend all therapists take such a course if they are employing tools in their general massage, but the point is that most therapists don't realise they should be doing so in order to secure insurance coverage. Amanda also makes a very good point insofar that some tools (like Hot Stones, Lava Shells and the Kneader) are more multi-functional and therefore require a more dedicated instruction on their use. If the tool is more of a 'treatment' in its own right, then most therapists would consult their insurers on purchase, but the coverage terms tend to vary - some insurers require an accredited course, other insurers require confirmation that the therapist has reviewed specific instructional material provided by the sellers on the product and/or some insurers require an extra coverage payment. This is an increasingly litigious world and we cannot put that genie back in the bottle, so how to we expand our horizons safely? Although massage tools are being increasingly used by professional therapists, the massage industry (in particular educators, governing bodies and their insurers) are failing to account for that and therefore there are no clear terms of use for therapists to follow-up on this. We ALL are taught to first massage with our hands because they are the best tool - but they are not the only tool! There should therefore be a minimal tool-use component to every Level 3 professional massage course, so that students are aware of the option and are provided with 'best practice' guidelines for using a supplemental tool (i.e. check with insurers on purchase and go on a tool course like AOSM's for completeness). If that became a reality, then all therapists would take accredited massage tool courses as part of their overall training and that would enhance both their treatments and working life. For now, however,this is too grey an area for that to happen - nobody knows what they should be doing because it has not been made clear to them by the powers that be. AOSM's tool course is the ONLY such full tool course that I know of and that is not reflective of the many therapists out there who are unwittingly using tools on uninsured terms. All the very best!
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