Friday, June 8, 2012

Attending the AAMT National Conference

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT) National Conference for the first time. This year Melbourne hosted the conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre situated on the banks of the Yarra River, a short walk from the Melbourne central business district.

Like many other professions within the healthcare industry, remedial massage therapists must earn a specific number of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) points each year to keep their provider number status current with the various health funds. Provider numbers are essential if a therapist’s clients wish to claim a rebate from their private health fund following a massage.

There are various ways of earning CPE points: completing nationally recognised courses, training and workshops, reading industry relevant textbooks and attending the AAMT National Conference. With Melbourne a mere three and a bit hours away hosting this year’s conference I took the opportunity to attend.

Not wishing to brave the Melbourne traffic or indeed park my trusty Nissan in Melbourne’s CBD for several days, I drove as far as Bendigo. Many thanks to former Wakoolians Susie and Woody for successfully getting me onto the Melbourne train with two minutes to spare and Team Ware for having me to stay at their apartment in Kew, any easy journey to and from the Melbourne Convention Centre each day on the 109 tram.

This year AAMT invited Massage New Zealand to collaborate with them and the conference attracted over five hundred massage therapists from around Australia and New Zealand. There was an impressive line-up of keynote speakers who spoke exceptionally well on their chosen subjects, a total of eighteen different speakers and workshop presenters covering a wide range of massage and health related topics.

Former AFL footballer Mark Bunn was the opening speaker for the 2012 conference with his inspiring and very entertaining talk called “Looking after No. 1”. Mark had studied both Western Science and Eastern Medicine for the last twenty years and reiterated the importance of being in tune with our body clocks and looking after ourselves for maximum health and wellbeing.

Mark’s health tips included getting enough sleep at the correct time ie: in bed between 9.30pm and 10.30pm and waking up between 6am and 7am (easier said than done for those of us that like to stay up until all hours of the night but I am at least making an effort to incorporate this into my life…). He shared his mantra “Eat Light at Night”, suggesting it was far better to make lunch the main meal of the day. Having a smaller, easily digestible meal in the evenings is conducive to a good night’s sleep. (I’ve embraced the big lunch… although I’m still working on reducing dinner…).

Presenters Lisa Casanelia (remedial massage therapist and senior lecturer at Endeavour College) and Cathy Stanguts (registered nurse and naturopath), spoke about their involvement in a trial carried out at The Alfred Hospital on cardiac patients between July 2009 and December 2010. The trial successfully showed patients who received massage therapy following cardiac surgery significantly reduced their pain, anxiety and muscular tension and enhanced their relaxation when compared with patients who received rest but no massage therapy.

These favourable results combined with the positive responses by staff and patients on the ward has resulted in a permanent massage therapy service on the cardiothoracic ward at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne which started in April 2011.

I found it particularly encouraging to hear of these trials with massage therapy and traditional Western scientific medicine combining to produce better healthcare outcomes. In the past massage therapy was viewed by many in Australia as a luxury treatment, something you got when you went on holidays. Now more than ever doctors are recognising the benefits of massage therapy as a complimentary healthcare treatment for their patients. 

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