Our Person of the Month for this issue of JMS is Mary Biancalana, MS. Edu., CMTPT, LMT. Mary is an exceptionally skilled therapist and very dedicated educator. In her clinic she successfully works with patients with complex somatic pathologies and what is very important she’s built healthy relations with the local medical community which recognizes the clinical value of Massage Therapy.
Besides working with patients in her clinic Mary invests her time and efforts in spreading her skills among other therapists, regularly conducting educational seminars to help others become clinically effective.
If all of that is not enough, Mary for 16 years has been serving the NAMTPT as a Board member, including 4 years as President and 3 years as Vice-President and 13 times as Conference Chairperson for the “National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists (NAMTPT) which brings together extremely dedicated massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors and medical doctors who practice and fully understand the clinical value of massage therapy.
Her combination of technical skills, clinical reasoning and great educational expertise make Mary a perfect example of a therapist’s success in the massage therapy clinical field. Here is our interview with
Mary Biancalana, MS. Edu., CMTPT, LMT
JMS: How did you get into massage therapy?
M. Biancalana: I have always been interested in massage therapy and have always known the incredible value of having trained practitioners facilitate wellness in the muscles. As a lifelong fitness instructor and exerciser, I have used massage therapy to assist my performance and wellness since 1983. Back then it was not that easy to find a well-trained and skilled massage therapist. But I was very lucky to have found someone and continued to work through delayed onset muscle soreness and to help me stay in Tip-Top shape while playing college level Volleyball, training lifeguards, swimming competitively, and any other number of competitive intramural sports I could find.
My Bachelors Degree in Physical Education had a strong focus on muscular anatomy, physiology of exercise and Kinesiology. It wasn’t until I myself had a car accident and was told to go to a more trained massage therapist to help the muscles around my larynx. The Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy treatment was amazing and I knew that studying trigger point therapy would be the next phase in my life.
JMS: You successfully work with local physicians to help patients. What are your suggestions for other therapists who want to build a successful professional network?
M. Biancalana: Prior to having Dr. Renee Hartz, MD as the medical director for my current clinic, I had the great honor of working with many physicians and practitioners who saw the tremendous value in highly trained and highly skilled massage therapy. It is extremely important to introduce yourself to the practitioners who treat your own clients. I obtain information about their primary care physician as well as other health care providers in their life. Then, with the permission of my client, I send a letter to their health care providers introducing myself as being a collaborative part of that clients care team. I also include some of my informative brochures and also a copy of my pre-made referral form. I also have a double sided Word document that explains the value of my treatment and how it would apply specifically to certain known diagnosis like knee pain, headaches, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and lower back pain ( to name a few).
JMS: You were NAMTPT President for 16 years. Please tell our readers about this incredible professional association.
M. Biancalana: I have been involved with the NAMTPT since my first introduction to the group as a new member in 2001. I was able to join as a full professional member in 2003 after passing the National Board Certification Exam, and by 2004 I was already serving in the executive Committee as the annual National Conference chairperson.
The organization was founded 34 years ago by 12 dedicated trigger point therapy practitioners, many of whom had studied directly under the tutelage of Dr. Janet Travell and Dr David Simons. Through the years the organization has enjoyed a supportive relationship with both Dr. Travell and Dr. Simons, as well as has flourished getting support from current leaders in research, education and treatment of myofascial pain due to trigger points.
Many of these leaders in the field include book authors, like David Lesondak, our keynote speaker at a 2018 conference and Dr Jay P Shah, lead researcher on trigger points at the National Institute of Health, Dr. Siddhartha Sikkdar, lead researcher on myofascial pain at George Mason University. Jan Dommerholt, lead researcher and research paper reviewer for Myopain seminars in Bethesda, MD.
We have been affiliated with and been by endorsed by leaders in the field of myofascial pain from the National Institute of Health, George Mason University, Harvard University Medical School, American University in Washington DC, Oregon Health Sciences University, and many other physicians and researchers who find our members of the highest caliber to which they wish to be affiliated. So, without question, the NAMTPT is clearly recognized as the most outstanding and high-quality organization for practitioners who strive for clinical reasoning, and excellent clinical outcomes in eliminating pain and restoring function.
Our members consist of Physicians, PTs, OTs, Psychologists, Massage Therapists and Acupuncture Practitioners. We also recognize world leaders who have excelled in clinical reasoning and pain relief practices via teaching, practice or research. We have instituted under my presidency a Dr. Janet G. Travell and Dr. David G. Simon’s awards for those people, anywhere in the world, who have either served as exemplary Hands-On Bodywork Therapists, or who have served as exemplary teachers and educators of high-quality continuing education, or those who have served in research or publication to further the study and treatment of myofascial pain and dysfunction.
The Science Of Massage Institute trained Medical Massage therapist is the perfect fit for our group because those of you who have studied with SOMI truly understand how clinical reasoning is imperative to have the highest outcomes and most positive relationships with medical doctors, PTs and other healthcare providers.
I feel it’s very important for all highly-skilled massage therapists to be affiliated with an organization like NAMTPT because from that organization one derives support from like-minded clinically thinking practitioners. The NAMTPT is a group of very fun, very accommodating, very inclusionary and very highly trained, pain relief practitioners. The legacy of this organization spans over 36 years of being recognized as some of the highest quality bodywork professionals in the United States.
JMS: What is your favorite type of body work?
M. Biancalana: What is your favorite type of body work seems to be a loaded question. Because I’ve been trained as a myofascial trigger point therapist from the very beginning. I did not even have to go to massage therapy school, because back in the old days we did not have to. I had liability insurance and belonged to a National Organization, so I was able to be grandfathered in when my home State Illinois adopted licensure for massage therapists.
So quite honestly, my favorite type of body work would be whatever body work it is that serves the client or patient the best. We all have a skill set in our tool belt and should be able to mesh any type of body work with an already established sequential clinical reasoning. My central concept is that as long as we have clinical reasoning to guide whatever therapeutic intervention we provide, our outcomes will be excellent. And if we cannot provide the best outcomes that is where the expanded network of colleagues and other healthcare providers comes in locally
JMS: What is your advice to JMS readers?
M. Biancalana: My advice is to continue expanding your knowledge base. Continuing education is the best way to keep your battery charged and keep you focused to be the single best provider of care that you can be. Attending weekend workshops keeps our skills sharp and continues to assure that we will have positive outcomes.
I also would give the advice that becoming a member of the NAMTPT would give the Medical Massage practitioner a family; an affiliation of high-quality, fun colleagues who would be there to keep you assured that you are aligning yourself with the best of the best. Our conference in Pittsburgh this year will be really fantastic and those who attended from SOMI last year, in Chicago, we’re completely blown away at the high-quality education, clinical reasoning, practical application immediately to the individual practice and fun social events that kept us all laughing and smiling for weeks after the event was over
Category: Person of the Month
Tags: 2018 Issue #2