By Maureen Stott

There is a massage school in Florida that requires every student to do a case study each semester.  This is a wonderful foundation for students so they are not intimidated by research.

Each year the Massage Therapy Foundation has a case study contest.  There is one contest for students and one for practitioners. This year’s student winner was from the school in Florida and her research title is “The Use of Massage to Improve the Performance of a Brazilian Jui-Jitsu Athlete by Increasing Range of Motion and Decreasing Pain: A Case Study for Hip, Shoulder and Elbow.”  Unfortunately, the student was not able to present her study at the convention, so the case study supervisor presented it.

I was not familiar with the sport of Brazilian Jui-Jitsu until I went to this class.  It is a martial art that uses, among other techniques, lock holds.  Lock holds are where you force your opponent’s joint to the end of its range of motion and then beyond.  OUCH!   If there is no way to get out of the hold or there is danger of physical damage to the joint you can “tap out” to end the match.

The client in the study had a background in wrestling as a young man and started Jui-Jitsu in 2010. By 2011 he had 14 joint injuries. He was a 6’3” male who was originally 400 pounds and was then down to 290 due to his athletic training in this sport.  He had extremely limited range of motion in his shoulder, which meant that he was unable to “tap out” and had to endure additional pain until the match was over.  The student, a young female, and had to use a “massage star” tool to get into the dense tissue.  She worked on him two times a week in 60 and 90 minute sessions for five weeks.

The study originally focused on the client’s shoulder, but during the five weeks the client revealed that he also had an injury to his elbow and knee.  The study found that working on the client’s elbow resulted in relief to his shoulder.

There was statistically significant increase in his range of motion in all areas except the client’s hips.  However, upon closer inspection, the student and faculty supervisor determined that because of the student’s inexperience the baseline measurement was inaccurate, which is why there was no significant increase in the range of motion.

This study was not only an education for the student, but it also showed that more supervision is needed when the students take their baseline measurements.  It also pointed out the importance of a thorough verbal intake.

If you would like to do a case study, go on the AMTA National website for more information and guidance.  The winner of the very first Case Study Contest was a woman from Connecticut!  Will you be next?