September 21, 2016
Raquel Sully, right, of RaSu Consierge Spa discuss the medical bebefits of massage therapy with Dr. Arlington Lightbourne of the Wellness Clinic. The therapy hasbeen used to treat chronic conditions and is convered in several insurance providers.
Once a luxury reserved for the wealthy with dollars and time to spare, massage therapy is now serious science and an increasingly critical business in the medical profession, according to experts.
"There is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of soft tissue manipulation in the treatment of chronic conditions, including diabetes, arthritis and pain management and in the general practice of preventative medicine," said Dr. Arlington Lightbourne, who this week added massage referrals to his list of services through his Wellness Clinic on Collins Avenue, an integrative medical practice that offers nutritional coaching along with concierge services and house calls.
"Several health insurance providers cover massage therapy or soft tissue manipulation because they recognize the benefits that can actually reduce hospitalization time or the number of days a person misses work," said Dr. Lightbourne.
"In fact, massage can be so beneficial in treating disease and keeping the generally well person healthy that, in my opinion, we have moved past the age of massage being thought of as luxury. It should be routine in our wellness vocabulary."
For massage therapist and paramedical esthetician Raquel Sully, the new dignity being afforded massage is long overdue.
"There are numerous case studies linking the positive effects of massage therapy as a component of an integrative approach to well-being, particularly in the treatment of chronic diseases," said Sully, who launched RaSu Concierge Spa earlier this year after working in the spa industry for several years.
Trained in Swedish, reflexology, hot stones, chair and sports massage, Sully also holds an Associate of Science degree in Advanced Paramedical Skin Care from Florida College of Natural Health -- pre-and-post-operative skin care, light chemical peels, anti-aging, HIV/AIDS training, medical camouflage make-up, microdermabrasion, manual lymphatic drainage and advanced holistic treatments. Now she takes the sap to clients.
Launching a portable massage, facial and make-up services business has not been easy. The mother of two hauls a 40-pound massage bed and all the accoutrements, from the radio with spa music and candles, with her.
"I knew it would be an uphill battle to get started, but I wanted to do this because I use only natural products, no preservatives or harmful toxins, and I love the idea of bringing wellness to a client's home," she said. "But what really convinced me was the facts -- study after study showing the benefits in the treatment of asthma, back pain, depression and anxiety or GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). In another lifetime, I might have been a doctor, but I was dealt the hands I have and I have made the most of them to learn everything I can about healing, and that is my goal. I am just so glad that the medical world is recognizing what I can see sometimes see in a single visit where there is an instant improvement in circulation and you can almost see a stressed person, even as they are totally relaxing, coming back to life."
Because insurance companies are covering a series of soft tissue manipulation sessions as they do a series of physical therapy sessions, Dr. Lightbourne and Sully are hoping that the acceptance will translate into greater recovery rates.
"In The Bahamas, where diet and lifestyle have led to an extraordinarily high incidence of type 2 diabetes, for instance, we need to bring every tool we have to our arsenal for treatment," said Dr. Lightbourne. "That includes diet, nutrition information, coaching, regular medical check-ups and monitoring. And if we now have the ability to include massage therapy, it takes us even further along the road to a better quality of life -- and that's what medicine is all about."
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