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Complement Ther Med. 2017 Jun;32:98-104. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.04.004. Epub 2017 Apr 24.

Treating individuals with amputations in therapeutic massage and bodywork practice: A qualitative study.

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Indiana University - IUPUI, Department of Health Sciences, United States.
Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Ball State University, Department of Education Studies, United States.
Indiana University - IUPUI, Department of Health Sciences, United States. Electronic address:



Best practices for massage therapy and bodywork (TMB) treatment of individuals with amputations are not well established. Although anecdotal observations are available, they have limited applicability for informing effective massage therapy and bodywork approaches for individuals with amputations. This study is part of a multifaceted research program seeking to establish a foundation for education and investigation of TMB for amputation related conditions/symptomology. The purpose of this study was to understand how TMB practitioners approach and treat individuals with amputations and their perceptions of outcomes. The TMB practitioner perspective is important in informing the development of a TMB practice framework for people with amputation.


The methodology of this study was informed by the phenomenological approach to qualitative inquiry. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted between June and September 2015, recorded and transcribed. Analysis consisted of descriptive coding and themes emerged through an iterative process. Codes and themes were discussed and verified with the research team. Participants were invited to review developed themes to indicate the extent to which results accurately encompassed their experiences as TMB practitioners.


Twenty-five community practicing, professional TMB practitioners from 16 states consented to participate and all completed one interview. Analysis identified four themes which indicated TMB practitioners: value touch and consider it a core aspect of treatment for individuals with amputations; operate under a core belief that individuals with amputations greatly benefit from TMB; and consider relief that stems from TMB to be multidimensional, including physical, mental, and emotional aspects; and, certain components of treatment approach are unique to amputation clients.


Findings support that individuals with amputation benefit from TMB, at least from the perspective of TMB practitioners. Findings of this exploratory research identify important questions regarding approaches to treatment and potential TMB effectiveness hypotheses for amputation populations. Next steps will consider TMB approach and effects from the perspective of those with amputation(s).


Interviews; Massage therapists; Practitioner perspectives

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