Daniel Lopes, LMT, CMMP is one of SOMI’s former students who has become a very successful Medical Massage practitioner. He runs a Medical Massage clinic in Colorado Springs where he works closely with the local medical community helping a variety of patients.
Daniel’s quest to become a massage clinician illustrates the simple fact that Medical Massage is an exciting and rewarding field of massage therapy which opens exceptional opportunities to therapists who are willing to invest time and effort into their professional growth.
Daniel exhibits a deep theoretical understanding of the Medical Massage Concept as well as exceptional practical skills of soft tissue evaluation and hands on application of a variety of Medical Massage techniques.
We think that in this interview our readers will find numerous practical tips on how to build a successful Medical Massage practice in cooperation with the medical community. Here is our interview with
Daniel Lopes, LMT, CMMP
JMS: How did you become interested in Massage Therapy?
D. Lopes: When I was a teenager in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, my aunt suffered with migraines. Because her work was near my home, whenever she had migraines she would stop by to prevent them from getting worse. Knowing the situation, I began to work on her shoulders, neck, scalp and head. I had always been interested in solving problems, intrigued by a challenge that is presented to me. Within a few minutes, she would close her eyes and rest. She would always wake up without migraines. This continued for a few more weeks until she no longer had migraines attacks.
I believe that through this incident a spark was created in my head and heart, not knowing what the future would present to me. Shortly after, I begin to study anatomy, biology, pathology and physiology in my high school years. Fast forward 5 years – my parents and I were discussing career choices. At that time, my mother encouraged me to look into massage therapy as she reminded me of the events with my aunt back in Brazil.
I graduated from massage therapy, got my license and began working in the field in 2003. After 10 years I was becoming frustrated and felt limited in the ways I could help people. The spark that I initially felt was dying. I felt that I was a “robot” with no sense of direction. It became mechanical work for me. I was seeing clients month in and month out with little success. Working without a purpose was killing me.
At this point, I decided to seek out a different career. I began to shadow PTs, Physicians/D.O. and Physiatrists. I was seeking a new career where I could continue to work with my hands, but actually see results. After three months, I realized that I didn’t want to be in crazy amounts of debt, or be manipulated by insurance companies directing the way I could treat my patients.
I sought divine guidance. I prayed to God and pleaded to him about my frustrations, my desires, my dreams. I wanted to have the “spark” back in my heart. Moments after that, a word came in my mind that I never knew existed. I typed ‘Medical Massage’ in the Google search. Miracle number one happened! I found and began to read Dr. Ross Turchaninov’s biography. I didn’t even know that Medical Massage existed. I was grateful to find this information online and began my research. Shortly after, I found the Science of Massage Institute’s website. I read most of the articles, watched the FREE ASM video and signed up for a Medical Massage seminar.
My first day of class was overwhelming. I realized how little I knew about what I was doing in massage therapy. My head hurt with so much information about pathology, but I was happy to have the spark back and feel purpose in my life. I was ready to change people lives! I attended my first course in November of 2013 and by January 2014 I decided to dive in and eventually practice only Medical Massage.
JMS: What impact has switching from therapeutic to Medical Massage had on your practice?
D. Lopes: I was feeling like I was living below my potential and needed to find my purpose in life. I made the decision to practice only Medical Massage and rely on SOMI, which provides me with data that is scientifically researched. Since then, the way I see a problem has changed drastically.
How I detect a problem now is like how an explorer explores new places. Just as there is more than one route to find a specific location, there are several tests I can conduct to discover why a patient is having pain. I can rely on the map of dermatomes, sclerotomes and myotomes to find the source of pain. Understanding how the muscular skeletal system works as well as the right tools which I received with SOMI’s training enable me to deliver consistent clinical results. Since then, my life, along with the hundreds of people I have worked on, has completely changed.
JMS: Could you describe your business model for our readers?
D. Lopes: First of all, I’m happy to see the progress that I have achieved in my practice in such a short time (6 months) since my family and I moved from Arizona to Colorado. The city of Colorado Springs is one of the largest small towns, so to speak. In order to succeed here, people want to know who you are. Referrals are key to any small business success. In the beginning, I contacted several local doctors and found one that was interested in sending patients to me. I also tapped into social media. On Facebook, I joined several local groups where I could advertise my services and find new patients.
I only offer Medical Massage and have targeted people suffering with chronic pain syndromes and headaches. I began by offering free assessments with a discounted intro treatment. I found that once people experience Medical Massage, they understand the difference and most become patients.
I’ve updated my website where I offer education through blogs and scientific news. I’m in the process of creating videos that will reinforce to readers that what we do and represent can empower and educate both massage therapists and medical communities. I also have started a blog on various conditions my patients had and how Medical Massage helps.
JMS: You’re very successful at working and marketing your therapies to local physicians. Could you give our readers helpful advice from the field?
D. Lopes: Besides having great tools provided by SOMI on how to approach doctors, you need to actually get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. In other words, research ways to advocate what we do. Research, study, read, and network with small business groups, etc. It’s good to have a decent website. If Google doesn’t have your business location and you don’t have a page on Facebook, the people in your community won’t know that you exist.
When my family and I first arrived in Colorado Springs, I made a list of the doctors within a 5 mile radius of my office. I put together a basic script and started calling. The script was modified as I called. Most offices were not interested to hear what I would like to offer. However, some were!
I have also come to understand that when the office manager says no, what it really means is not now. This is when I introduce myself to them face to face and try to create a relationship of trust. This is where your energy goes. Some might believe that in order to be successful in this business you have to have luck. I believe the definition of Luck is: Preparation meets Opportunity. It is just as important to prepare in the knowledge of what we do as it is to continue to make and meet those opportunities.
In the beginning it might be overwhelming to learn how to structure and figure out how you want to run your business. Yet as you continue to perfect your craft, the rest will fall into place. Most massage therapists unfortunately don’t invest time in their business (websites, SEO, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.).
There’s a difference between investing in your business or on your business. In the beginning of every business, we probably won’t have the capital to invest in some essential tools that can benefit our business. Remember that we have a powerful tool with Medical Massage. Recently, I traded services for a more effective, modern new website with a patient who is an expert in this field. This has increased my Internet presence and allowed people in my area to find me on Google. Remember, no one knows who you are until you put yourself out there!
JMS: What is your favorite type of bodywork?
D. Lopes: Medical Massage is my passion for several reasons. First, it provides an immediate or relatively quick response. It’s empowering to see and feel the pathological changes that take place right under my fingertips. I enjoy witnessing firsthand the clinical changes from one session to the next. I love to see the reaction on my patients’ faces and see them leaving with a hopeful and positive attitude. It’s very rewarding.
Secondly, I enjoy Medical Massage because of all the different techniques I can choose to use it. The more tools in my box, the greater the results I can provide. I use what works best on each client depending on age, pain threshold, skin type, body type and severity of condition. In my practice, my focus is to work with patients who deal with chronic pain and headaches. I also enjoy stretching, utilizing PIR specifically when working on different muscle syndromes. I know that it is not only going to help them long term, but also help them feel better on their first treatment.
JMS: What is your advice for JMS readers?
D. Lopes: Continue to read and study Medical Massage textbook, Volume II, Second Edition. In order to be successful in anything you do, you need to “Own it!” You need to grasp the basic fundamentals of Medical Massage. If you don’t get it, go back, read it again, watch the video again, practice it again and again. A light bulb will click on in your head and you will experience the ‘aha’ moment. Understand that this is a concept rather than a method or modality of treatment.
Also, I cannot stress enough the importance of seeing the problem as a whole picture. Remember that as practitioners we are seeking to find the source of the problem and not the symptom. Before you work on anyone, make sure they have a problem. Don’t be “an order taker.” Meaning, don’t work on what your patient asks you to work on. Use the interview questionnaire offered by SOMI, and with time memorize it. After assessing a patient, create a treatment plan. Medical Massage works! People tell others when they experience quick results. Word of mouth is the best marketing tool.
Your reputation will grow with time and so will the money. This is what has changed my life, my patients’ lives and my practice. This is a scientific, researched approach to getting your patients out of pain with long-term STABLE results while succeeding as a massage therapist. Continue to take classes offered by SOMI. It’s good to periodically refresh old courses and take new ones. Use the sources that are available to you online such as the SOMI Video Library. It is an incredible tool! As you continue to do this work, you will see that your cases will become more and more complicated. Think outside of the box!
If you’re still having a hard time solving a problem or have questions, seek out direct advice from Dr. Ross Turchaninov. The Science of Massage Institute website give us a unique opportunity to get his clinical advice via the Forum and communicate with each other there. Lastly, have fun!!!
Category: Person of the Month
Tags: Issue #4 2016