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Collins Career Center introduces massage therapy training to area

COAL GROVE – One "alternative" treatment program is on its way to becoming mainstream in Lawrence County.

Friday, February 08, 2002

COAL GROVE – One "alternative" treatment program is on its way to becoming mainstream in Lawrence County.

This is the first year for the massage therapy program at Collins Career Center in Coal Grove and the 19 students in the program are honing the skills necessary to work as a massage therapist in Ohio.

Kay Swartzwelder, RN, MSN, director of allied health programs for the vocational school, said the massage therapy program in Coal Grove is filling both a need for massage therapy training programs in the state and a need for licensed massage therapist.

Ohio, Swartzwelder said, has one of the strictest licensing laws for massage therapists in the United States.

She said students must take courses at an approved school and spend at least 600 hours in the classroom over a 12-month period. Then, students must pass a test given by the Ohio Medical Board in order to receive a license to practice as a massage therapist.

Swartzwelder said the vocational school’s program exceeds state requirements. Students at the Coal Grove center spend 1,000 hours in the classroom over a 15-month period.

Students go to class three days a week and study anatomy and physiology, massage theory, business skills and then practice what they’ve learned in class on one another.

Student Bethany Goodrich of Ironton said she and her friend, Aaron Taylor, had spent the last three years talking about becoming massage therapist. When they decided to enter the profession and started looking for schools, they were surprised to see Collins Career Center listed among the training programs throughout the state. Goodrich and Taylor both agree that they find the program both challenging and enjoyable.

"It’s a lot tougher than I though it was going to be," Goodrich said.

But, after the students graduate the class and pass the board tests, the career outlook is good, Swartzwelder said. She added that massage therapist can find jobs in medical and chiropractic physician’s offices, day spas and health center, or opt to open their own practice. Massage therapists, Swartzwelder added, charge anywhere from $45 to $55 per hour.

And people today look to massage therapy for more than pampering. A consumer survey released today by the American Massage Therapy Association shows that 60 percent of consumers seek massage for health and medical reasons over the 6 percent that look to massage for indulgence.

Healthcare providers are also increasing their referrals to massage therapist .

"The data collected this year indicates a significant ongoing shift in consumers’ understanding of massage therapy. Healthcare providers and consumers alike realize that massage has great health benefits and use it for many health conditions ­ stress relief, relaxation, injury recovery, chronic pain," Steve Olson, president of American Massage Therapy Association said.

The organization said the number of American adults who report getting a massage over the last 12 months continued to steadily increase. Statistically, more than twice as many had one or more massages from a massage therapist in the past year, 17 percent than did in 1997, 8 percent, the first year AMTA began tracking consumer data.

Recent clinical research, the AMTA reports, shows that massage provides relief for chronic low back pain, eases pain and muscle spasms following bypass surgery, and is effective for lymphedema, a condition common among mastectomy survivors.

Ohio is only one of 25 states that regulate the profession of massage therapy, with the law going on the books in 1916.