Medical Massage Helps Stroke Patient

A few months ago, I got a call from a thirty five year-old Hispanic female.  The conversation should have taken five minutes but took about an hour.  The reason this conversation took so long was the fact that it was almost impossible to understand her.  To me, her voice sounded like she had a mouth full of marbles.  With almost every word I had to ask her to repeat what she had just tried to say to me.  Not to belabor this point, I learned that two years prior she had suffered a stroke.  While she was in the hospital for the stroke her heart quit beating.  She flat lined for two minutes.  After her heart was restored she was in a coma for two months.  During this time, she developed Bell’s Palsy on the right side of her face.

I told her that unfortunately, there was nothing that I could do for her.  But she was not about to give up.  Finally, I gave in and agreed to see her.  My thought was that I would work with her for about ten minutes and prove to her that I could not help her.

The appointed day arrived.  She came to my office with her father.  Her condition was actually worse than I had anticipated.  Not only could she not speak very well and the right side of her face showed no expression, her right arm had very little range of motion and she could not make a fist with her right hand.

I began with the anterior scalene muscle on the right side of her neck.  I palpated the muscle and as I expected it was as hard as a rock.  I began the ASM Protocol expecting to feel no difference in the muscle.  After a couple of minutes, I could feel a slight change in the muscle so I completed the protocol.  I thought well if there was a change in the anterior scalene muscle, why not try the facial muscles?  So, I did lymphatic drainage on the right side of her face.  Following that, I worked the facial muscles according to the protocol in the Medical Massage Book Volume I.  I finished with PIR to the Anterior  Scalene and the facial muscles.

Finally, I asked the patient to count to ten out loud.  I expected not to hear any change in her voice.  That is to say, what I expected to hear was a very tortured difficult to understand one,  two, three, etc.  What I heard was very different.  She was now able to enunciate the words.  Although not perfect, she was now easily understandable to the point by the time she said three, her father who was sitting outside in the waiting room yelled out “Oh my God” and came running into the treatment room. I was amazed at the difference in her voice.  The two of them looked at each other with tears in their eyes!

I showed her father how to perform some basic stretching to the anterior scalene muscle.  At that point, we concluded the session.  I informed them that what had just happened, meaning the change in her ability to speak, may not last.  I told them to stretch the anterior scalene one time per day and call me in about two weeks.  Four days later, the patient called me.  Her voice had actually improved!  She wanted to come back in for another treatment.

When she arrived at my office she was accompanied by her entire family – mother, father, husband and kids.  I began by repeating exactly what I had done in our first session.  This time, I added the Pectoralis Minor Protocol.   Adding the Pectoralis Minor began the process of restoring greater range of and reducing the irritation in the arm and shoulder.

I now see her every two to three weeks.  She continues to make progress but not as dramatic as what she experienced in her first couple of visits.  She now has about 75% range of motion in the right arm, she can now make a fist, she can lift her right eyebrow with her facial muscles and she can smile slightly on the right side of her mouth.

After our second or third visit, I said to her that I was amazed that she had made any progress at all, never mind what had actually occurred.  She looked at me and said that she should have died in the emergency room when her heart stopped and that I was simply continuing her miracle.  That was one of the most humbling experiences that I have ever experienced.  Thank you to the Science Of Massage Institute and Dr. Ross Turchaninov for giving me such exceptional clinical tools!

Curt Lezanic, LMT, CMMP, San Antonio, Texas



1. Secondary symptoms for virtually every disorder of the human body can be improved or solved with Medical Massage. Even stroke patients or those who suffer with chronic visceral abnormalities must be worked on. Scientifically based Medical Massage is a simple and clinically reliable treatment option and patients must have access to it.

2. What happened with this patient? Why was Curt  able to help the patient while nothing else had worked? Of course he didn’t restore part of the brain damaged by stroke. What he did was take care about secondary symptoms occurring in the soft tissues as a result of the stroke, starting with all anterior cervical muscles. Releasing tension there helped decrease tension around the vocal box and improved the patient’s vocal abilities. The same thing occurred when he worked on the patient’s arm and fist. He improved function by releasing secondary symptoms and this improved the patient’s quality of life.

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