At the Infusion Center
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Nordic House Spa Massage Therapist, Miechelle offers massages to cancer patients undergoing treatment at two of the Dignity Health infusion centers in the Sacramento area. Curious? Here are some details about what a massage therapist does at an infusion center, and what they take into consideration when assessing clients.
Massage lowers anxiety and relieves pain, and for many infusion center patients massage has been observed to alleviate neuropathy, nausea, and the stressful experience of being in a hospital. It is calming and provides comforting touch, as opposed to a doctor's procedural touch.
All infusion center patients are offered twenty-minute foot or hand massages. “We try to see as many patients as we can in our three-hour shifts,” says Miechelle. “If you aren't offered a massage, you might have been busy with a nurse or asleep when we passed you. You are always welcome to ask your nurse to call the massage therapist so you can get a massage.”
All cancer patients can receive, and benefit from, touch therapy! If a patient has a port or PiCCline they can still receive hand or foot massages; the massage therapist will simply avoid the location of the PiCCline.
A common side effect of chemotherapy is peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the nerves. It causes weakness, loss of grip strength, pain, numbness, tingling, or burning sensations, particularly in the extremities. Because of this, some patients in the infusion center find touch too painful. Massage therapists will of course respect a patient's choice to decline a massage. However, studies have shown that massage can in some cases relieve the symptoms of neuropathy.
Another common side effect of cancer treatment is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots. Oncology massage therapists always check with infusion center nurses to find out if their clients have, or are at risk for, DVT. Patients experiencing DVT can still receive massage; if for example it affects a client's legs, the massage therapist will work on that client's hands. For clients affected in a larger portion of the body, a massage therapist will offer still touch. Still touch is a weightless stationary hold over the arms, legs, hands, or feet, and can be very calming and meditative.
In the infusion center, massage therapists use a water-based, non-tacky lotion when giving massages because chemotherapy and medications often leave the skin dry, fragile, and unsuited for heavier lotions. They use covers on a patient's chair or pillow to keep it clean of excess lotion. Additionally, massage therapists in infusion centers use gloves to minimize the risk of transmitting any germs or substances to their clients that could cause them to get sick. The gloves feel just like bare hands when enough lotion is applied. If a client falls asleep while receiving a massage, the therapist will finish the client's twenty minutes and then quietly leave the client to rest.
Do you have any further questions about the risks or contraindications of massage in an infusion center? Send us questions on FB, IG @nordichousespa, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.