I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet Dr. T. Field in person; but for many years I followed her publications and tireless work for the benefits of the massage therapy profession and patients. The work of the Touch Research Institute is a remarkable chapter in the history of the American school of massage therapy. At this point this scientific institution is the ONLY credible scientific source in the USA upon which the practitioners may rely.
I would like our readers to fully understand the scope of Dr. Field’s contribution, scientific purity, and dedication. Dr. Field is the author of more than 450 articles examining the science of massage therapy. These articles were published in the most prestigious medical and psychological journals. Despite a great level of expertise, she doesn’t try to sell the practitioners her seminars or DVD’s. She has dedicated her life and work to science and massage therapy. Such unselfishness, in combination with her great scientific mind, deserves respect from all of us.
I suggest to all our readers to visit the Touch Research Institute website and at least read abstracts of Dr. Field’s publications in order to be able to present this information to physicians and patients using real scientific data rather than the anecdotal claims of some authors.
Here is our interview with
GREAT SCIENTIFIC MIND
JMS: How did you get into the field of massage therapy science? Please tell our readers about the Touch Research Institute, its history, scientists who work there, and its goals.
Tiffany M. Field: The Touch Research Institute was established in 1992 with funding from Johnson and Johnson to study the role of touch and touch therapies. Since then over 100 studies have been conducted with J&J and NIH funding on the effects of massage therapy on medical and psychological conditions. Currently we have six message therapists, two psychologists and four students working with us.
JMS: We think that the entire American massage therapy community is deeply in debt to you and your colleagues for the science you are bringing to the profession. What are you working on right now, and what plans do you have for further research studies?
Tiffany M. Field: Having established clinical improvement in many conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, autism, etc.), we are now studying potential underlying mechanisms for the massage therapy effects on those conditions. For example, we are conducting a study, which examines the reduction of stress hormones in pregnant women by massage therapy which leads to lower prematurity rates.
JMS: How does the medical community and the Miami Medical School in particular view the results of your research?
Tiffany M. Field: They view them with increasing interest. For example, we now have an alternative medicine program for medical students. This program is in the form of different alternative medicine practitioners presenting informational lectures so that, as the students become physicians, they will be more likely to refer the patients to massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc. We need more similar programs in medical schools.
JMS: This is a follow up question. We think that the leaders of the American massage therapy profession don’t pursue hard enough the medical aspects of massage therapy, and do very little to communicate with the medical community to inform physicians about the medical benefits of massage therapy. In you opinion how can we bridge this gap to get massage therapy back to the traditional medicine from where it originated?
Tiffany M. Field: The only way is to use scientifically based information. This is why we need more scientific studies. Massage therapists can greatly help the cause by providing the physicians and clients research information documenting the massage therapy effects so that the word is spread through the community of providers and users of traditional medicine.
JMS: As leader of the Touch Research Institute where would you like to see your institution in the near future?
Tiffany M. Field: Well funded.
JMS: What advice would you like to give our readers?
Tiffany M. Field: Please read the scientific literature to know the effects of massage therapy. We will not get anywhere if the massage practitioners treat clients without deep understanding of what they are doing and what mechanisms they employ during the therapy.
Tiffany M. Field PhD is director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School. She is recipient of the American Psychological Association Boyd McAndless, Distinguished Young Scientists Award and has had a Research Scientist Award from the NIH for her research career.
She is the author of many books: Infancy, The Amazing Infant, Touch, Advances in Touch, Touch Therapy, Massage Therapy Research, and Complementary and Alternative Therapies, the editor of a series of volumes on High Risk Infants, and on Stress and Coping, and the author of over 450 journal papers.
Category: Person of the Month