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The Massage Therapy Foundation at AMTA National Convention

2012 Donor PinWe are excited to bring you this blog post from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Convention! For those of you who will be joining us in sunny Raleigh, North Carolina, I wanted to let you know about the different promotions and special events the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) has going on this week.

Thank you, Golfers!

First, as yo may have already heard, our 2nd MTF Golf Outing took place earlier today at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course. We were excited to share this fun day with our supporters, and we’d like to thank everyone who came out for this great event. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for photos and videos from the day.

Special Thank You gifts

 If you are joining us at the AMTA Convention, make sure to visit us in the exhibit hall at booth #419 where we will have some exciting Thank You gifts for on-site donors! Just like last year, we have a brand new donor pin to show your support for the MTF. And as Ruth mentioned last year, all of the cool kids will want to collect this pin, too!

MTF Oil Holster with BIOTONE lotion

Our next new Thank You gift is a limited edition massage lotion holster with the MTF logo printed on it. The first 200 holsters also come with a bottle of Advanced Therapy Lotion, generously donated by BIOTONE.

While you visit all of the exhibitors on the convention floor, take note of the ones with a bright blue sign indicating their support of the Massage Therapy Foundation. These are a few of our corporate donors – it is through their support, and the support of individuals like you, that we are able to perform the important work we do.

If you missed your opportunity to purchase the MTF-sponsored music albums ‘Rise’ and ‘Shine’ last year, we will have them available for purchase at our booth again. If you are not attending the convention, these are already available on the Massage Warehouse website.

Attend the IMTRC for free

Would you like to attend the International Massage Therapy Research Conference for FREE? Participate in AMTA’s Passport to Prizes to get entered for a chance to win this and other great prizes. It’s free – all you have to do is visit each of the participating exhibitors to receive a stamp on your “passport,” then turn it in to AMTA. The drawing will be on Saturday afternoon.

Treat yourself

After visiting our booth, treat yourself to a 10-minute hand or foot massage at the Massage Warehouse Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a program created to raise funds and awareness for massage research. Each treatment will be performed for a donation of $10 which goes to the Massage Therapy Foundation.

Poster Sessions

One aspect of AMTA’s National Convention that we are most proud of is our partnership with AMTA to bring scientific posters to convention attendees. Research posters are in-depth summaries of clinical trials, surveys, experiments, and case reports. We invite you to explore the Research Poster Session to see emerging massage therapy research. Visit the posters any time on the first floor of the convention center. Do you want to talk one-on-one with a poster presenter? Some of the poster presenters will be available on Thursday from 11am-1pm, and Friday from 12pm-1:30pm to discuss their findings.

Post-Convention Workshop with Ben Benjamin

Finally, there is still time to register for the Massage Therapy Foundation Post-Convention Workshop: The Assessment and Treatment of the Most Common Cervical Injuries with instructor Ben Benjamin (Full description). The course is worth 12-CE Hours and will take place Sunday, 10/7, 12:30pm-5:30pm and Monday, 10/8 from 8:30am-4:30pm. To register, visit the ATMA registration desks, or on-site the day of at the Marriott City Center, State room AB.


A Mind-Body Intervention with Massage Helps Treat Substance Abuse

Massage Therapy Foundation Research ColumnMassage therapists are aware of the mind-body connection and its important role in maintaining health and wellness.

This mind-body connection can be particularly influential when a client is recovering from substance abuse. In 2011, Price and colleagues published study results in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, documenting the impact of the mind-body connection in a sample of adult females. Their work examined the effects of mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy (MABT) for women enrolled in a substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facility. MABT combines massage and mind–body approaches to develop interoception (the processing of internal sensations to create awareness integral to sense of self) and emotional self-care skills.

Massage is thought to be clinically useful for increasing self-awareness about tension, stress and habitual response patterns that may help prevent relapse. However, Price and colleagues were unique in their examination of mind–body therapy using massage as part of treatment.

Women in addiction treatment often report experiencing sexual and physical abuse in both childhood and adulthood. Further, the rate of eating disorders in women with SUD are nearly double that of those without a SUD. Having a trauma history and/or an eating disorder can increase vulnerability to relapse post-treatment. However, mind–body therapies, such as MABT, may provide women with self-care skills to prevent relapse. In particular, MABT can provide women with the ability to identify and cope with emotions without using drugs.

This study was a pilot project at a women's only treatment clinic in the Pacific North West. Forty-six women enrolled in the study; the median age was 39 years. Participants reported using alcohol, opiates and multiple addictive substances before treatment. Most participants were Caucasian; one was Asian American, and two identified as mixed ethnicity. More than half the participants reported experiencing sexual or physical trauma in either childhood or adulthood and PTSD, while 30 percent had an eating disorder. Most participants had previously sought substance abuse treatment and had minimal exposure to massage.

Participants were randomized to receive the 8-week MABT intervention plus treatment as usual (TAU) or to TAU alone. TAU was a 12-step abstinence-based approach involving group sessions using psycho-education and cognitive–behavioral therapy. All participants completed a 3-week inpatient program and then continued in an outpatient, 12-to-24 week program that met 2 to 3 times per week for three hours.

MABT sessions were offered weekly during the outpatient program, each lasting 1.5 hours. Each participant randomized to MABT was assigned to one of four licensed massage therapists who had clinical experience addressing mental health concerns. The MABT protocol involved asking participants about their emotional and physical well-being to guide the session. Particular attention was given to body awareness in relation to experiences associated with substance use and treatment. The hands-on component of the session was 45-minutes and included massage over clothes. Touch was also used to teach interoception and body-based self-care skills such as learning to feel the sensation of breath, bring conscious attention to specific areas of the body, attend to physical and emotional tension and develop mindful body awareness. To integrate the skills they were learning, participants had individualized inner body awareness homework to do each week.

Data collection time points included baseline, post-intervention (three months from baseline), and six and nine month follow-up. The data included assessments that measured substance use, psychological and physical indicators of distress, perceived stress and other mind-body indicators such as ability regulate emotions, body awareness and bodily dissociation. A satisfaction survey and written questionnaire about participant perception of the MABT experience was administered at post-test. A questionnaire about use of any practice focused on connection to the body, such as daily or weekly yoga classes or bodywork treatments, during the follow-up period was administered to both groups at six and nine months. In addition, MABT participants were asked if the practice involved skills learned in MABT sessions.

Findings indicated moderate to large effects including significantly fewer days of substance use at post-test for participants in MABT, compared to those in TAU. Other outcomes showed improved eating disorder symptoms, depression, anxiety, dissociation, perceived stress, physical symptom frequency and bodily dissociation for MABT compared with TAU at the 9-month follow-up. The high level of continued use of MABT skills after the study was considerable, suggesting that participants perceived much benefit from MABT.

Though findings are significant and compelling, Price et al. indicate study limitations for consideration when interpreting outcomes. One limitation is that MABT participants were given a greater amount of time and attention than those in TAU. However, the high level MABT skills used during follow-up shows this was not the only reason for the effects of the study. Another limitation was the small sample size, and allocation of subjects to TAU and MABT differed. Also, only part of the assessment for emotion regulation was used; the findings or interpretation may not be valid without the use of the entire measure. The study sample was likely to have higher socioeconomic status and functional abilities than those found in community clinics. Finally, the sample was restricted to women. The effect of MABT with samples representing both men and women, with individuals in methadone-assisted treatment warrants further study.

Overall, this study demonstrates a mind-body oriented intervention with massage therapy can have positive effects on people in SUD treatment. The authors suggest MABT may be particularly relevant to women, given the high rates of eating disorders, depression, anxiety and trauma found among those with SUDs. It also appears that the self-care and other coping skills acquired during the study carried over beyond treatment and were incorporated into daily life.

Massage therapists who work with individuals recovering from substance abuse have confirmation that what they experience and know intuitively is being proven scientifically – compassionate, therapeutic touch facilitates the mind-body connection and can help in substance use recovery.

    • Cynthia J. Price, (Ph.D.), Elizabeth A. Wells, (Ph.D.), Dennis M. Donovan, (Ph.D.), Tessa Rue, (M.S.). Mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy as an adjunct to women's substance use disorder treatment: A pilot feasibility study. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. September 26, 2011.
Reprinted with permission from the October 2012 (Vol. 12, Issue 10) Issue of Massage Today,

Massage Benefits Brain Cancer Patients

download-the-massage-therapists-guide-to-working-with-physiciansWe are pleased to report on an exciting MTF-funded study that examined the potential effectiveness of massage on stress levels and quality of life in brain tumor patients.

Anyone who has ever experienced a traumatic illness such as cancer knows all too well the toll such a diagnosis can take on one's physical and emotional states of being. In addition to apprehensions over treatment and subsequent outcomes, there are many other concerns that can affect a patient's stress level and quality of life, including worries over health insurance, financial security, and various other issues. Moreover, previous research has shown that patients who have been diagnosed with a brain tumor tend to exhibit higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression than those suffering from other forms of cancer.

Research has demonstrated that massage therapy has a variety of positive effects on people suffering from various forms of cancer, most notably reductions in pain, anxiety, and depression.1 However, little is known about the efficacy of massage on patients specifically diagnosed with brain tumors.

Researchers at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University conducted a pilot study to ascertain the effectiveness of massage therapy treatment on stress levels and quality of life in newly diagnosed brain tumor patients.


Twenty-five patients (ages 18+) received two weekly 45-minute massage therapy sessions for four weeks for eight total sessions by two licensed massage therapists, each of whom had more than 600 hours of training. The therapists employed techniques consisting of classic Swedish massage: long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, effleurage and shaking. As part of the study, participants completed questionnaires at baseline, at the end of weeks one through four, and one week after the conclusion of the final massage session.

Keir employed the Perceived Stress Scale-10 (PSS-10) to assess stress and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Brain (FACT-Br) to assess quality of life. According to the Keir, "The PSS-10 is the most widely used psychological instrument for measuring the perception of stress" and scores range from 0 to 40 points, with "the mean threshold for stress in the general population [being] 12.1 and 13.7 for men and women, respectively." The FACT-Br includes two components: the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General version (FACT-G), which consists of 33 questions that assess well-being in physical, social/family, emotional, and functional domains, as well as an additional brain subscale that assesses key components of the quality of life of brain tumor patients.


Keir found a significant drop in the group's stress levels between weeks two and three and a continued reduction in stress through week four. At the end of week four, all of the study's participants "were below the threshold for being considered stressed." One week after receiving the final massage, participants' PSS-10 scores had increased but had not climbed above the participants' baseline score.

Regarding quality of life, participants also reported significant improvements in emotional well-being, social/family well-being, and brain tumor-specific concerns, as well as nearly significant improvements in physical well-being. Improvements in the areas of emotional and physical well-being continued one week after receiving the final massage.

Keir concluded, "The results of this study suggest that the effect of massage therapy [on] stress may be additive or cumulative and that once massage therapy is discontinued, stress returns but not to original levels." He added that he believed the massage intervention played a role in reduction of stress for study participants as the health of brain tumor patients typically declines over time. The topic of massage frequency's role on stress and other symptoms in patients with brain tumors begs for additional research.

Commenting on quality of life issues, Keir noted that other studies have demonstrated that massage has a positive effect on one's well-being, continuing, "This study validates those findings in a brain tumor population, as participants in this study reported experiencing improvements in emotional, social, and physical well-being, [and areas of additional concern] specific to brain tumor patients."

Among the study's limitations were the small study group, the lack of a control group, and the participants' limited geography, which was a 60-mile radius. Because of a lack of a non-massage group or "sham treatment" group, it is impossible to differentiate the effects of the massage from other effects, such as patients educating themselves about their treatment, thereby reducing their own stress levels. Keir recommended that future similar studies could benefit from being longer, using a control group, tracking outcomes at the conclusion of the intervention, and incorporating physiological and biological markers into the objective assessment. Adding a qualitative component to future studies would also help us to understand any other benefits that were experienced by participants but were not measured directly.

Source: Keir ST. Effect of massage therapy on stress levels and quality of life in brain tumor patients—observations from a pilot study. Supportive Care in Cancer, 2010 Nov 3 [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.1007/s00520-010-1032-5

    1. Ernst E. Massage therapy for cancer palliation and supportive care: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Supportive Care in Cancer, 2009;17:333-7.
Reprinted with permission from the April, 2011 (Vol 11, Issue 04) Issue of Massage Today,

Massage Therapy Foundation 2013 Grants and Contests Now Open

We are happy to announce that the following grants and contests are now open for the 2013 granting season.

Case Report Contests

Case reports play an important role in scientific and professional literature. They are the number-one way for regular massage therapists and students to transform the research landscape of massage therapy. The Massage Therapy Foundation offers two contests each year, one for Practitioners and one for Students. The 2013 Student Contest has just opened, and the 2012 Practitioner Contest is about to close. You can learn more on the case report contest section of our website find case report resources, and read abstracts from past student and practitioner winners.

Student Case Report Contest - Deadline June 1, 2013.

Practitioner Case Report Contest - Deadline October 8, 2012.

Community Service Grants

Massage Therapy Foundation Community Service Grants are awarded to charitable organizations that provide massage therapy to people who currently have little or no access to such services. This program is designed to promote working partnerships between the massage therapy profession and community-based organizations.

The Community Service Grant deadline is April 1, 2013.The maximum award is $5,000 for a one-year project. These grants are available for organizations or affiliates of organizations that have been in existence for at least one year in the respective state or province; are tax-exempt under schedule 501(c)(3) in the U.S., non-profit charitable organization in other countries; currently provide some therapeutic or other service programs to the community; and have designated a qualified staff member to oversee the program.

You can learn more on the community service grant section of our website find resources on our website, and read abstracts from past MTF Community Service Grants.

Research Grants

Massage Therapy Foundation Research Grants are awarded to individuals or groups conducting research studies that seek to advance our understanding of specific therapeutic applications of massage, public perceptions of, and attitudes toward, massage therapy, and the role of massage therapy in health care delivery.

Through research grants, the MTF supports high quality, independent research that contributes to the basic science of massage therapy application, including applied research investigating massage therapy as a health/mental health treatment, and/or prevention modality.

You can receive up to $30,000 for a one-year project. Learn more on the research grant section of our website, find resources on massage therapy research, and read abstracts from previous  MTF Research Grants.

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2013.

If you have any questions about any of our grants or contests, contact Alison at, or 847-905-1667.

MTF Research and Community Service Grants in Boston

MTF International Massage Therapy Research ConferenceThe Massage Therapy Foundation is preparing to embark on our third research conference, the International Massage Therapy Research Conference (IMTRC). The IMTRC will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 25-27, 2013, at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center. As we are nearing registration opening for the IMTRC in October, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the multiple  Community Service Grants and Research Grants which the Massage Therapy Foundation has funded in Boston. Read on to learn more about each of them and how they tie in to our conference.

In 2006, the MTF awarded a $5,000 Community Service Grant to Pathways to Wellness in Boston for their program “Win Win Hands On.” Led by Elizabeth Sommers PhD MPH Lac, the focus of the work was on adolescent girls who are overweight and at risk for diabetes. This project was extremely successful, and was able to expand to study the feasibility and benefits of incorporating massage into a full community health program, which is what Day 2 of the IMTRC is focusing on. Their work went on to receive a $20,000 Research Grant from the MTF in 2008. The research demonstrated that massage can be an acceptable, desirable, and feasible modality to integrate with comprehensive programming for nutrition education and weight control, and may play a role in reducing risk of diabetes for vulnerable adolescent girls by introducing them to healthy habits and practices for self-care.  Dr. Sommers will be a panel member on Day 2 of the conference focusing on Massage in the Community: Informing Public Health (See the full conference program).

We have awarded two different grants to groups at the Boston Medical Center. A $5,000 MTF Community Service Grant was awarded to Robert Saper, MD for “Therapeutic Massage for Cancer Patients with BMC.” With these funds, an estimated 360 patients in chemotherapy received approximately 140 hours of massage to help alleviate symptoms such as pain, fatigue, stress, musculoskeletal side effects, nausea, and depression.

The second project funded at Boston Medical Center was a 2008 MTF Research Grant awarded to Jennifer Rosen, MD for “Pilot RCT of Cancer Patients Undergoing Port-a-Catheter Placement.” Dr. Rosen’s research was successful in creating a massage protocol for measuring massage as an intervention to relieve stress and anxiety during a Port-a-Catheter placement procedure and they have gone on to receive additional funding to support research on massage in this area.

As you can tell, there is a lot of great work going on in the Boston area and we are prou to bring the IMTRC there next year. All previous grant recipients, and other independent researchers in Boston and abroad are invited to submit an abstract to present a break-out session at the conference. The abstract deadline is September 15, 2012 has been extended to October 1, 2012.  Registration for the IMTRC will open in October 2012.

Massage Therapy Resources for Research and Education

MTF Resources ImageOne goal of the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) is to advance research on therapeutic massage and bodywork, which contributes to the understanding and appreciation of massage therapy. The MTF website provides a variety of research and educational resources for massage students, faculty members, and practitioners.

Because massage instructors and students need to be on the leading edge of massage therapy, we have created a page of resources for you: Student & Faculty Resources. On this page you will find the MTF Education Toolbar. This is a new tool that installs onto your existing web browser, and allows quick access to resources around the web. The toolbar provides links to study tools, visual aids, and videos to enhance in-classroom discussion. It allows you to search multiple research journals from one place, and provides a feed of the MTF blog so you won't miss any posts. To learn more about what the MTF Education Toolbar can do watch the following video. You can download the toolbar from our website.

The Student & Faculty Resource page also offers two research literacy courses, Basics of Research Literacy (online) and Teaching Research Literacy (in-person). These courses teach massage practitioners and teachers how to utilize research in their everyday practice and classrooms. On this page you will also find resources on writing case reports and creating scientific posters. Learn what a case report is and find specific examples. In addition, this resource page gives students and instructors access to full text articles, publications, medical references, and anatomy resources. Resources include anatomy atlases, Mayo Clinic Health Info, Biomed Central and PubMed. For a full listing of all student and faculty resources, click here.

Additional resources are posted on the page Research Resources in order to help anyone navigate research organizations and publications. This page provides connections to government agencies, massage therapy organizations and publications, research columns, newsletters, and professional resources. Click here to see all of the research resources available.

We hope that you enjoy this plethora of resources available to you around the web. If there is anything that you feel we have missed, please feel free to email Megan at with your suggestions.

Abstract Deadline Approaching - International Massage Therapy Research Conference

MTF International Massage Therapy Research ConferenceThe Massage Therapy Foundation is accepting abstracts for the International Massage Therapy Research Conference (IMTRC) for any oral and poster presentations that focus on the conference themes. The IMTRC will:
    • Present research findings that help explain how massage therapy works through physiological, psychological, and neurological mechanisms;
    • Emphasize the potential for community outreach programs to provide research data through evaluation, and discuss program implementation strategies;

The abstract submission deadline is September 15, 2012 has been extended to October 1, 2012. 

Submissions are welcome of original research, reviews, basic and applied research, translational, participatory and community-based research, case reports and quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodologies. Accepted abstracts will be published in our open-access research journal, the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (IJTMB).

Purchase Bon Vital Kits to Support the Massage Therapy Foundation

Message Therapy FoundationAfter the success of the July 2012 promotion with Soothing Touch and Massage Warehouse - who raised $2,199.50 for the Massage Therapy Foundation  just 50-cents at a time - we are excited to announce a new promotion with Bon Vital! For each massage oil kit purchased, Bon Vital will donate $5 to the MTF! There are five different kits to choose from.

Watch MTF President Ruth Werner speak with Tom Heidenberger and Bruce Baltz from Bon Vital about this incredible promotion and the different kits!


Join Alexa Zaledonis of NCBTMB at this year's MTF Golf Outing!

Joe Bob Alexa ZaledonisRegistration is now open for the 2012 Golf Outing benefiting the Massage Therapy Foundation! Alexa Zaledonis of NCBTMB joined us for last year's outing in Portland, Oregon. This year she will be joining us again in Raleigh, North Carolina.

What: 2012 MTF Golf Outing in conjunction with the AMTA National Convention

Where: Lonnie Poole Golf  Course, Raleigh, North Carolina

When: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 10:00 am EDT

Register online via Eventbrite, or send in this form!

L to R: JoeBob Smith of NHI, Alexa Zaledonis of NCBTMB, Mike McGillicuddy CFSMT, & Ethan Pochman of Performance Health at the 2011 MTF Golf Outing

You can register up to four players at a time. Fees include green fees, golf cart, range balls, transportation to and from the course, and lunch. Pricing is as follows (when registering together):

Single $135
    • Double $260
    • Triple $395
    • Foursome $500

Fees include green fees, golf cart, range balls, transportation to and from course, and lunch. If you are registering individually, please email Paul at with your preferred golfing partners. We will make every attempt to accommodate your request.

Can't join us on the golf course, but still want to support this fun event and the MTF? Sponsorship opportunities are available start at just $100 each!


Editorial Board Changes at the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

Therapeutic Massage and BodyworkThe Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) is pleased to announce multiple editorial board changes at the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (IJTMB), the massage industry’s open-access scientific journal sponsored by the MTF. In early 2012, Glenn M. Hymel, EdD, LMT, stepped down from his post as the IJTMB’s Executive Editor after many years of dedicated service. Dr. Hymel is now serving as the journal’s Senior Consulting Editor and Emeritus Founding Executive Editor.

Since the departure of Dr. Hymel, the IJTMB has welcomed Antony Porcino, PhD, as the newly appointed Executive Editor. Porcino’s term runs through February, 2015. Antony Porcino recently completed his PhD in health services research, specifically research design issues in complementary and alternative medicine. His thesis focused on how therapeutic massage bodywork practitioners' training and experience need to be addressed in research design. Porcino’s background includes a double Bachelor of Science in both organic chemistry and biochemistry, seven years working as a Hellerwork Structural Integrator, and five years as Deputy Registrar, Research and Credentials, for a Canada-wide complementary medicine practitioner association.

Ruth Werner, Massage Therapy Foundation President said, “Dr. Glenn Hymel's vision and leadership brought the IJTMB to a high level of acceptance in the scientific community in a remarkably short time. While we are excited to welcome Dr. Porcino as the new Executive Editor, we are grateful that Dr. Hymel will continue to serve in an advisory capacity.”

More recently, Albert Moraska, PhD, joined the IJTMB as the Research Section Editor. Albert Moraska is a past member of the Massage Therapy Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Albert received his doctorate in Integrative Physiology in 2002 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and has been actively teaching and conducting research on massage therapy since 1994.

The MTF looks forward to further success of the IJTMB. The journal continues to push forward and make a name for itself within the massage and bodywork profession, evidenced by its inclusion in the indexes of PubMed Central, Quertle, the Directory of Open Access Journals, CrossRef, Healthindex, Index Copernicus, Google Scholar, Hinari and Scopus.

The International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (IJTMB) is an open access, peer-reviewed publication intended to accommodate the diverse needs of the rapidly-expanding therapeutic massage and bodywork community. Principal sections of the journal span the areas of research, education, and clinical practice. For more information and to subscribe for free, please visit

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