Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2015

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36 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j a n u a r y / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 5 education Reflections on Mirror Therapy By Ruth Werner Let's say you're watching an action movie. In one scene, the main character comes around the corner and all of a sudden the villain jumps out and attacks him. Do you flinch? What just happened? During massage, have you ever worked with someone exactly where and how you wish someone would work on you? As you poured your intention and breath into addressing your client's pain or tension, did you feel your own pain or tension relax and release just a little? These phenomena reveal some fascinating things about the brain that may eventually lead to noninvasive but successful strategies for pain management. We saw a hint of this in the last Pathology Perspectives column ("Amputation Adaptations," Massage & Bodywork, November/ December 2014, page 40), where one massage therapist described working with her client, an amputee, in this way: I found it very helpful to work on his arm as if it was intact. Using pillows, I made an "arm" and continued my long strokes as if the arm was there, while he watched. That helped dramatically with the phantom pain. What might have been happening in this session was something neurologists call mirror therapy, and this protocol, while not effective in every case, has great potential among people with chronic limb pain. PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES

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