As a burn survivor, and knowing other burn survivors, I’ve found that we have different experiences with certain things than other people due to our burn injury. One of these include massage therapy.
I was lucky enough to get my classmate and fellow PR major Amy Tuckett , who is also a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), to answer a couple questions about how it’s like to massage someone with burn scars.
The lovely Amy. Photo taken by Terry Proveda.
Here’s our Q and A:
1. Can you tell me a little about your massaging career i.e. how long have you been massaging, what’re your credentials etc.
I’ve been a massage therapist since March 2005. I’m currently a member of the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba and have worked at both Intrinsic Massage Therapy and Healthview Therapy Centre, which is a multi-disciplinary clinic that has everything from Chiropractic Treatments to Physiotherapy.
2. Can you tell me about your experience with massaging a burned person
In my Advance Treatments class at the Massage Therapy College of Manitoba, I learned treatments for burns and scars. After all the acute healing has passed, I’m able to work on scars, whether they are from burns or otherwise. Depending on the severity, it may not be realistic for the scar to completely disappear, though we do have several goals of treatment:
- To breakdown the collagen fibers, which are often laid down in an unorganized and random manner. Massage therapy uses techniques which try and realign the fibers, which can also provide increased elasticity (collagen fibers are not flexible).
- To breakdown adhesions of underlying tissue. Often tissues can surrounding the scar become adhesed and/spasmed and the immobility can result in increased pain. As RMT’s often have advanced palpation skills, we can feel the adhesions and break down the adhesions below and around the surface of the burn.
- To reduce redness and elevation of the scars. The optimal goal is for a scar to be light coloured, flexible and flat. Scars can also have some residual edema (swelling) as well as itching. Both of these things can be helped with a massage treatment.
3. Is it much different than massaging normal skin? What’s different and what kind of things do you have to consider?
Working on scar tissue is MUCH different than working on normal skin, and it is important to go to a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) who has working knowledge of treating scars. As I mentioned before, there’s less flexibility and it’s important that the scar is healed enough to be worked on, so that no tearing occurs.
A special thank you again to Amy for all this useful information!
I found this really helpful. I have a two year old who has scars of second n third degree burns from boiling water. Rite now the outcome of scaring is an appearance of(bubble like)swelling n itching. I have been debating on whether or not to go on ahead with skin surgery. I will consider massage therapy to the health nurse and hope she can get her in for the therapy somewhere.
Happy to hear that this article helped you. The RMT is a personal friend and classmate of mine. I’m not sure if you’ve read my story, but I was burned the same way as your child. I was lucky enough that after my first hospital stay I didn’t have to have any further treatments aside from check ups. The biggest side effects I found were that my sweat glands were damaged causing me to sweat in different areas (my hands and feet) and getting sun burns on my burns because the skin was more sensitive. Where abouts are you from? I can forward you some more burn support resources if you’d like 🙂
Is there any CEU course for Burn Scar Massage Therapy.
Massage is the application of systematic manipulation to the soft tissues of the body for therapeutic purposes. Although various assistive devices and electrical equipment are available for the purpose of delivering massage, use of the hands is considered the most effective method of application, because palpation can be used as an assessment as well as a treatment tool.