The following is the text of the testimony I gave before the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development, in which I make the case to preserve licensure in the interest of medical safety: My name is Emily Bilodeau. I have been a licensed massage therapist for eleven years. I have a private practice in Farmington where 60% of my business is referred to me by the medical community. I am here to voice my opposition to the deregulation of massage therapists. Massage therapy licenses confirm that a practitioner has basic clinical proficiency and an appropriate working knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology. Because trained massage therapists provide safe and effective treatment, we face the assumption that anybody can do this. In fact, it is the education and regulation of massage therapists that creates this safety record. Here are my biggest safety concerns:
Anatomy and physiology are not required courses at most Maine high schools. Consumers lack the basic knowledge to understand the qualifications of unlicensed practitioners, who themselves could lack important knowledge of the human body.
Untrained massage therapists can apply too much pressure to anatomical endangerment sites, severing blood vessels, tearing tendons and ligaments, crushing nerves and breaking bones.
Diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, all rampant in Maine, require changes to massage sessions in order to safeguard a client’s health.
Stretching and range of motion techniques are effective treatment tools but must be altered or avoided after all joint replacements, most injuries and some illnesses.
Heat is a popular massage tool but untrained therapists will not understand its danger to common medical conditions.
Pregnancy sets off a rapid series of physical and biochemical changes which massage therapists must take into account to ensure the safety of the pregnancy and the mother herself.
Criminal background checks would disappear with deregulation, exposing vulnerable people to exploitation and abuse.
Massage therapy, if administered incorrectly, can result in muscle tears, torn tendons and ligaments, broken bones, crushed nerves, broken blood vessels, joint dislocation, cerebrovascular accident, cardiovascular emergency, and the exacerbation of the very pain or diseases that caused clients to seek treatment in the first place. We need educated, licensed and regulated massage therapists to make safe and judicious treatment decisions. Please remove the deregulation of massage therapists from LD1036.
If you are likewise concerned about the deregulation of massage therapy, I urge you to contact the committee and your local legislators. Together, we have a fantastic chance of keeping massage therapy safe for Mainers.