Massage Medical Applications Project (MMAP)

Massage Medical Applications Project

Welcome to the home page of MMAP, the Massage Medical Applications Project. MMAP was started in mid-December 2005 to address a need to better characterize massage knowledge, skills, and abilities in applications of medical interest. In short, this is the knowledge domain of massage applied as a treatment or as an adjunct to other treatment to address medical goals. Such goals can either be tissue specific (i.e. clinical/orthopedic) or tissue unspecific (systemic), including goals such as improved quality of life and psychological well-being.

The mission of MMAP is to coordinate current knowledge on the medical applications of massage. The sources of such knowledge are the expertise of individual practitioners, papers published in the medical literature on massage applications, and other sources having a consensus as to their accuracy and quality. MMAP is created in the spirit of an open source software collaboration to stimulate wider awareness of available knowledge and wider discussion and participation in its review and dissemination.

The MMAP projects is quite specifically not about creating yet another a priori definition of ‘medical massage’or a certification of such. While the MMAP effort is intended to benefit creation of outcome-based norms and guidelines for practice and training, having rigor in these definitions demands completion of data compilation, analysis, and discussions yet undone. MMAP advances the philosophy that norms and guidelines should stem from wide and open discussion and review, by the massage profession as a whole, based upon a solid foundation of knowledge. Although it focuses on goal-oriented applications, the MMAP project is not, in any sense, about devaluing massage practices without medical goals. There are many contexts of life enhancement and life transformation in which the freedom to explore touch without pre-defined goals is a true gift. Such exploratory applications of massage can have great long-term benefits on health and quality of life.

A major part of the MMAP effort is to characterize the connections between medical conditions for treatment, secondary medical conditions requiring technique modifications, treatment goals, massage techniques, references on massage applications, and practitioners and educators providing expert input. We now have an initial viewer for outline-oriented views of the MMAP database. The raw information collected into an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file is also available and can be viewed with most modern web browsers. The full input from those contributing to this project is also being collected and made available after review by the submitter. The MMAP project is also a continuation and deepening of the investigations reported in three columns written for the trade publications Massage TodaySearching for Medical Massage, Massage Mechanisms, and Interconnecting Science, Massage, and Medicine. It also ties back to the concepts of subpractices presented in Swimming Upstream toward Effective Practice, particularly in pursuing the guidelines for guidelines presented in Table 2. Concepts on the network organization of massage knowledge (i.e. mapping of ‘knowledge domains’)follow from Ancient Trade Routes and Knowledge and Networks.

The MMAP effort in understanding the knowledge domain of medical applications of massage will hopefully provide a objective basis to move toward a more outcome-oriented (rather than agenda-oriented) framework for curricula and practice guidelines and norms. It will also help to provide the necessary benchmark against which to evaluate things proposed or claimed to be ‘standards’. Among those efforts is work started in early 2007 to create a Massage Competency Definition Library (MCDL). This library, when further developed, will constitute an underlying vocabulary of massage-related knowledge, skills, and abilities from which context-specific job competences can be specified. A blog post on Guidelines, Learning Objects, and Competency Definitions, considers the relationship between the MDL and another recent developments in competence informatics. Another related effort has been the creation of a Bibliography for Massage Practitioners that highlights a wide range of technical and sociological resources. Yet another effort was a draft literature review on criteria for creating guidelines for best practices. This review has become part of the work currently being done by the Best Practices Committee of the Massage Therapy Foundation on creating a process for the transparent and open creation of massage practice guidelines.

As of today, we have a dataset of 375 viewable references to articles in the medical literature on massage. See the bottom of the database page for the link and comments on the format and content.

Thanks for your interest in the Massage Medical Applications Project (MMAP).