Massage therapists often work with clients who have physical and mental disabilities, and they should be prepared to identify potential contraindications in order to best provide massage therapy to this population. Often, special needs clients may not disclose medical ailments or their need for accommodation until they arrive for the appointment, so it is up to massage therapists to be well educated about situations when it is, and when it is not appropriate to provide massage therapy services.
The term “special needs” is broad, and encompasses a large spectrum of minor to severe needs ranging from mobility assistance, to cognitive impairments, to clients with medical ailments. When special needs clients make an appointment for a massage therapy, they often (but sometimes do not) disclose that they have a physiological or mental impairment that may require special assistance. For massage therapists, it is best to be aware and prepared to work with clients who require additional attention and techniques to provide a quality massage while not compromising the client’s health or safety.
How would you work with special needs clients who require a wheelchair for mobility? How will you approach treatment with a client who has had a full skin graft on his or her back? How do you provide massage therapy to a client with a history of seizures? For many massage therapists, the answers to these questions are often guesses at best, and educating yourself about possible special-needs situations can help you become knowledge and prepare for any unforeseen needs and potential contraindications.