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"A New England Journal of Medicine article reported in 1993 that a third of Americans are spending
more than $10 billiona year out of pocket on alternative therapies, and massage therapy is one
of the top three alternative therapies."
The AMTA notes that current research reflects a growth trend in massage therapy: people are
having more massages, and it's becoming more mainstream, appealing to everyone from young
adults to those who are more mature. People are capitalizing on the therapeutic benefits of
massage and report having massages mostly for relaxation, to relieve aches and pains and
to help reduce stress.
Evidence of the growth and acceptance of massage is plentiful.
More insurance companies are covering massage therapy, from Oxford Health Plans on the
East Coast, to Kaiser-Permanente, in California.
Doctors are increasingly recognizing the benefits. Many refer patients to massage therapists,
particularly to help them deal with pain, and to alleviate the effects of stress. A national survey
conducted by the State University of New York at Syracuse found 54 percent of primary care
physicians and family practitioners said they would encourage their patients to pursue massage
therapy as a treatment. And, at least 38 of the 120 U.S. medical schools now offer courses
on alternative medicine.
The National Institutes of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine recently spent $10 million to
establish 10 centers in the United States to study alternative therapies, including massage.
All are affiliated with major institutions, including Harvard Medical School and
AMTA's membership of professional therapists is more than 28,000, a nearly four-fold
increase in a decade.
"Professionalism in the field of massage therapy has been elevated greatly in the last 10 years,"
said Marjorie J. Albohm, MS, ATC, director of sports medicine and orthopedic research at
the Center for Hip and Knee Surgery in Indianapolis. "In many ways, it is a new profession."
Massage therapy is particularly growing in several venues, including sports massage and
massage in the workplace.
Many professional athletes — including basketball icon Michael Jordan — rely on massage
to help them recover from injuries and muscle soreness, and more than 100 massage
therapists provided massages to Olympic athletes, as part of the official medical
services team, during the summer games in Atlanta in 1996.
Increasingly, companies are offering massage at work. Employees typically sign up for
15-minute mini-massages, and report feeling not only less stressed, but more alert.
"Employees constantly comment that massage helps them to concentrate and become
more productive," LeBrun said. "And they're happier to work for their employer."
This article provided by: American Massage Therapy Association
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