The Role Of Massage Within Occupational Therapy

Here in Stony Plain Canada, as a community and traveling Occupational Therapist, most of my work is about making people better after an accident or illness.

When we Occupational Therapists meet someone for the first time, it is usually not in the greatest of circumstances. Their lives have been shattered by an event or some devastating moment in time, which has forever been frozen and left its mark on their body.

Because often it is bodies that we are OTs are dealing with; but we should never forget that it is the whole person who we need to treat, holistically.

Whether it is a stroke, an illness or an accident I am treating, I am reminded of the need to look at the whole of the person.

The way that I treat someone who has suffered or suffers from some form of neurological impairment, will be different from how I approach someone who is functioning well in that capacity.

But the one thing I never underestimate is the use and combination with other therapies, to bring about the best recovery in a patient possible.

Because I am lucky, that I can wear two hats, as it were. The Occupational Therapists hat and my Massage Therapists one too.

For a lot of people, their recovery is hampered by the physical problems still causing them trouble, which is not being treated as it might be.

All too often, a patient has been discharged from hospital or a care provider and left to their own devices. And whilst it is the job of us, the Occupational Therapists, to offer them advice and help with the best way of carrying out day to day tasks, sometimes advice and even equipment, are not enough.

The physical trauma of their injuries can be all too apparent.

Here is where being a qualified Massage Therapist really becomes an advantage.

Anyone who isn’t already able to deliver these services for themselves would have to refer on to someone such as myself who can do them. It is for this reason that I think that it really benefits an Occupational Therapist, who already has another string to their bow.

Because I was already a trained and practicing Massage Therapist in Stony Plain, prior to undertaking my OT qualifications, I was at an advantage.

I was already used to dealing with people in trauma of various types.

I already had some practice in massaging patients with conditions such as whiplash and other trauma relating from accidents. And I had also treated people for a whole range of other conditions, which had nothing to do with injury, but more to do with their mental wellbeing.

Most people might be aware that a massage is relaxing and can unlock their muscles, but not everyone knows how it can help the mind to balance itself as well.


This form of deep wellbeing was one of the main reasons I went into Massage Therapy in the first place. I have used massage on patients with neurological conditions, brain injuries and conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. And I have witnessed it make a very real difference to their stress levels and mental wellbeing.

Wanting to bring the message further about the link between massage and mental wellbeing, I have been able to use massage in my work as an Occupational Therapist. And because I am qualified to give the treatments myself, it makes the whole process of treating the patient a lot more straightforward.

Sometimes a patient may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of professionals visiting them and that they have to deal with.

I have had numerous testimonials from grateful clients that they have appreciated having only one person to deal with for both the treatments and care they have received.

I would strongly urge any trainee Occupational Therapy students to consider a background in Massage Therapy as a complementary subject.