Sunday, October 28, 2007

Massage College

Often when talking to friends about college the question that comes up most frequently is, "okay, but what do you do at college?", normally qualified with questions about whether we actually do practical massage, or how we fill a full week, never mind 18 months of full weeks, with massage.

So here we go people, a full week of massage college:

8:15-2:15 - assessments class, where we learn postural assessments, range of motion for all the different joints of the body, and approximately 300 tests for different conditions, syndromes, and general ailments.

8:15-10:45 -palpation class, where we learn how to palpate ("feel out on the body") all the bones, muscles, joints, bursas, and ligaments that we need to be able to identify in order to properly massage. If someone says "I hurt here" and points, we need to be able to identify what structure that is, and what other structures are likely involved. It's not enough to learn the textbook anatomy since no one person actually looks like a textbook cadaver.
11:45-2:15 -regional anatomy 2, the follow up course from regional anatomy 1, where we learn the textbook anatomy. While last term had us learning all the bones, muscles, joints, and ligaments of the body (excluding the head), this term we learn the anatomy of the cardiovascular system including names of all the veins and arteries as well as the structure of the heart itself, and all about the bones and muscles of the head which is intensely confusing due to its 3-dimensional set up.

8:15-10:45 -anatomy and physiology 2, a continuation of anatomy and physiology 1, where we learn about the chemistry and biology that allows the anatomy of the cardiovascular system to function. We also learn about the body's chemical response to stress, and sleep, and how those impact our general system.
11:45-2:15 -pathology, where we learn in depth about various diseases. So far we've been focusing on the different types of arthritis, as well as lupis, and how to distinguish them from one another, and which massage techniques to use, and which techniques would be potentially harmful.

8:15-10:45 -manual skills, where, you guessed it, we learn massage techniques. A new technique always starts with a class of notes on the theory behind the technique, what it does, who it helps, who shouldn't have it, and whatever precautions need be taken. The following class after will begin with a teacher demonstration of the technique, and then we are divided into pairs and the classroom is partitioned into cubicles and we practice while the teachers walk around, give us pointers, correct our posture, and answer any questions we have about that technique on its own or in combination with others.
11:45-2:15 -neurology, where we learn about all the nerves in the body as well as the layout of the brain, and which lobes are involved with which parts of human life, and the spinal cord.

8:15-2:15 -manual skills, all day.

In addition to these 30 hours of class time, we each also have 5 hours of clinic a week, scheduled for one consistent day each term (I have mine on Fridays this term). The student clinic has a ratio of 12 students to one registered massage therapist, and we treat the general public who come in. We go through a standard intake procedure, do a postural assessment and test ranges of motion and use whatever assessments we've learned that may be applicable. We then do a full consent, and a full 1 hour massage to address whatever problem has walked into our cubicle. As well as the one day a week of clinic, we also have 1 Saturday every 4 weeks of clinic.

As if class time and clinic weren't enough, we're also expected to complete a certain number of outreach hours by the time we graduate. These we sign up for as fits our schedule, and come in various styles and time commitments. There are sports and hospital outreaches, both of which we have to complete a certain number of hours in (8 for sports, some higher number for hospital). If you complete 50 hours in either one (or both) you get a certificate of specialization along with your graduation degree. I'm going to try to get mine in hospital.

And that, in a nutshell, is college.

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