Massage Therapy  with Dee Hiatt, 
Every Little Bit
February, 2000
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.
© 2004, Dee Hiatt
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