Help shape the future of manual therapies

Practitioners and researchers from the fields of manual therapy, including massage, osteopathy, chiropractic, structural integration and physiotherapy, recently met to collaboratively discuss the latest insights into manual therapies and to help shape future collaboration and research.

The The first conference of the International Consortium on Manual Therapies (ICMT) took place online from May 4 to June 3.

“[This conference] will most likely change the future of the massage therapy profession as we work to define what we do with our hands, so that more research can be done across all professions that use manual therapy methods,” said the participant. and massage therapist Julie Onofrio, LMT. “I got to see and be part of the beginning of true integrative healthcare -[of] collaboration between many professions that used to have turf wars. Those times are behind us. The future is brighter now.

ICMT forms membership options to continue discussion in webinars, group networking, social media space and conference proceedings. The massage therapy community must be engaged with ICMT. This is the collapsing organization that has been talked about for years.

“ICMT is a unique collaboration. It’s exciting to see practitioners from around the world and across multiple disciplines working together to more effectively develop research to deliver evidence-based care,” said participant, massage therapist and Reiki practitioner Jeffrey Montoya, DHPE, LMT, BCTMB.

3 key thematic areas

In preparation for the conference, three key thematic areas, deemed fundamental to establishing a productive collaborative manual therapy community, were explored:

1. Manual therapy procedures;

2. The physiological theories behind the procedures, and;

3. To measure the physiological effects of manual therapies.

We collaborated to create an integrated mind map, comparison charts, technical templates, and the very beginnings of a Rosetta Stone nomenclature list of terminology used in various professions. All are works in progress. Massage therapy documents can be accessed here.

“It is an honor to work alongside brilliant leaders from the various manual therapy professions and to witness the passion, integrity and commitment within each profession and the desire to fulfill discrepancies,” said massage therapist Erin Kelley, LMT, BCTMB. “The experience was truly remarkable.”

There is no shortage of massage research

The scientific working group reviewed hundreds of research papers. (The librarians who helped developed a poster presentation describing the process and the difficulty of searching various databases for relevant research due to terminology issues.)

Research has been selected to support the inaugural conference objective related to research on biomechanical-based manual therapy. As one of the reviewers of the research, it is clear to me that there is no shortage of research supporting manual therapy and research specific to massage therapy is well represented.

This perspective was acknowledged by keynote speakers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Helene Langevin, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH); Partap S. Khalsa, DC, PhD, director, Division of Extramural Activities, NCCIH; and Alex H. Tuttle, PhD, program director of the Basic and Mechanistic Research Branch, NCCIH.

Research must now pivot as outlined in the NCCIH Strategic Plan and a major funding initiative is the Neural Mechanisms of Force-Based Manipulations: High Priority Research Networks (optional U24 clinical trial).

To achieve the goals of the NCCIH Strategic Plan, collaboration is needed among neuroscientists, manual therapists (chiropractors, physiotherapists/kinesitherapists, osteopathic physicians, massage therapists), physiologists, mathematicians, and engineers to advance related cutting-edge research. to strength. manipulations. A major problem in collaboration is the need for common terminology.

“We know that manual procedures are performed by many professions and by many practitioners,” said Brian Degenhardt, DO. “However, there is no place where practitioners and researchers can collaborate in an open, supportive, progressive and respectful multi-professional environment to discuss ways to advance practice.”

How ICMT was created

When something new emerges, you can be sure that years of work have preceded the event. This is the case with the ICMT. The seed was planted in 2007 at the first Fascia Research Congress at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

At this conference, Paul Standley, PhD, from the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, came on stage and said he didn’t understand what we were talking about and, therefore, couldn’t understand what we were doing – and therefore he was limited in designing and conducting research related to manual therapies.

I was in the audience in Boston while Standley was speaking. Many current massage therapy leaders and educators were also present. Yet as we all returned to our daily lives, little progress was made.

Time and time again, at conferences from various disciplines, a core group continued to identify that a unique collaboration of multiple manual therapy disciplines needed to work together to break down professional silos and start talking, and most importantly, sharing research development , funding and integration into clinical practice.

Eventually, a core group took action: Brian Degenhardt, DO, assistant vice president for osteopathic research at the AT Still Research Institute; Paul Standley, PhD, of the University of Arizona College of Medicine; and Francesco Cerritelli, PhD, neuroscientist-osteopath, president of the Center for Osteopathic Medicine Collaboration; and

More than three years ago, the young ICMT was formed and the recruitment of international experts in the disciplines of manual therapy began. Professional experts included Dodopaths, Osteopathic Physicians, Chiropractor Physicians, Massage Therapists, Structural Integration Practitioners and Physiotherapists, with outreach to a wider group of disciplines including athletic trainers, medical doctors manual, occupational therapists, physiatrists and, above all, researchers in these fields.

[Watch the manual therapy disciplines’ Discussion Forums conducted at the ICMT.]

An important collaboration

I was recruited more than two years ago. At a point in my career when I’m starting to take a step back, I initially resisted involvement. However, my instinct confirmed that this collaboration was going to be important for the massage therapy community in the future.

The first ICMT working groups were an international, interprofessional group of clinicians, educators and scientists. We worked together to collect, compare and, where appropriate, integrate information and data to provide a foundation for cross-professional communication and understanding at the inaugural ICMT conference.

Originally planned as an on-site event at the University of Arizona in early 2022, it has become clear that travel limitations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for global attendance, as well as increased costs in general, required original thinking on the part of the leaders of the ICMT.

Geoffrey Franklin pivoted the gathering to a new virtual collaborative platform called. Gathertown. In this virtual environment, participants were able to engage in interactive discussion platforms that took place in short segments over a 30-day period, allowing practitioners and scientists to attend and maintain their work schedules and family.

Even the duration of time zones has been taken into account. All speakers, panels, panel discussions and special interest discussions have been recorded. Each discipline has posted video examples of the methods used. There was a robust and excellent poster session which was one of the highlights of the conference. We touched on uncomfortable topics, especially related to discussions of the past. Led by Cameron W. MacDonald, PT, topics included “Skeletons in the Closet” and puzzles around “Licensed to Touch.”

Next steps

The future of ICMT is exciting. For the next consortium, we expect to generate even more attendance. We hope that future participants will continue working with us.

“The first ICMT conference is a treasure trove of knowledge and experience. Research has been done. Research is ongoing. Is the call for more research the answer? Or is the study of current science more likely to bring relief sooner to those in need? Participant posed and massage therapist Allissa Harter MT, from Sweden. “Let the ICMT be a bridge. May ICMT be the gateway for manual therapists to walk through – to talk with engineers and scientists.

Future engagement is being planned, with projects focused on advancing the field of manual therapy (remember massage therapy is manual therapy) through regular and reasonable-pace engagement of thoughtful contributing members addressing fundamental issues that currently impede the advancement of science and clinical practice. manual therapy.

Discussions during the conference and new awards from the NIH and NCCIH indicate that the themes and goals of the conference were spot on.

ICMT membership is open to practitioners who practice manual therapy, including athletic trainers, chiropractors, doctors of chiropractic, doctors of oriental medicine, doctors of physical therapy, doctors of manual medicine, massage therapists , osteopaths, osteopathic physicians, physiatrists, physical therapists, and structural integration practitioners, as well as researchers in the fields of anatomy, biomechanics, circulation, kinesiology, motor control , neurophysiology, pain, pathophysiology, physiology and sociology.

This summer and throughout the rest of the year, ICMT members will work to disseminate the work done over the past two years, continue to work on projects such as a unified glossary of manual therapy terms and will begin to flesh out the next ICMT conference. Click here to join.

Sandy Fritz

About the Author

Sandy Fritz is a founding member of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education and author of massage textbooks, including “Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage”; “Mosby’s Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage: Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics and Pathology”; and “Sports and Exercise Massage: Comprehensive Care for Athletics, Fitness and Rehabilitation”. His articles for MASSAGE magazine include “Old Myths Die Hard: The Truth About Toxins” and “The Massage Profession Needs to Face the Future—United.”

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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