|I used to do respiratory therapy. Now I do massage therapy. Who would think the two interests would combine in a job?
Luckily for me, they do. I find myself two half days a week at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain giving massages
to patients who are on ventilators during the time they are learning to breathe on their own again, a time when they are
frequently filled with anxiety that adds to their work of breathing.|
After a year at the hospital, I can say that the massages for the patients I see at the hospital are not much different from
the massages for the rest of us. Just as I usually have to do in my general practice, I find I have to vary the techniques
I use to fit the individual. Why did I think otherwise? Surprise! People on ventilators are regular people.
Massage is not for all the patients. A small percentage say, “No thanks” when offered a massage. But most say, “Yes, please.
This is really good.” A few say, “This is the best treatment I could have.”
I have observed that the massages usually increase relaxation, reduce anxiety, increase comfort, and add to the patients’
sense of well-being. But I am not sure of the extent or duration of the results. These patients have many influences on
them in the form of numerous other therapies and interactions with caring staff members. A psychologist, a pulmonary
physician and I are working on a research project at the hospital, trying to objectively determine the effects of massage
with these particular patients.
Solutions to complex situations are not usually simple. I do know that in this case every little bit of help helps.