A Chat with Electra M. Liatos, Certified Massage Therapist
Electra Liatos is one of those rare friends who knows instinctively how to help someone in a crisis. She doesn’t use words or gifts; she uses her touch. Hugh says she possesses “fingers of love.” Having had several massages from her, I have to agree. An hour on Electra’s massage table is nothing short of pure bliss!
One thing I know for sure is that she often showed up at the hospital and at our home, and her visits were as healing as any medicine. Once, while rubbing my neck she remarked, “There is enough pent up stress in this little neck to fuel a missile.” Electra’s massage therapy helped Hugh and me in the two years following his injury, so I decided to interview Electra and share her insights with you.
Rosemary: What are the benefits of massage for caregivers and people with TBI?
Electra: One of the oldest healing arts, massage therapy has been used for thousands of years as a tool to relax the mind and heal the body. No longer considered an indulgence, massage therapy has proven effective for the treatment of physical aches and pains, and is frequently used to promote healing in sports injuries.
Speeding the removal of lactic acid and metabolic waste from the muscles, massage therapy accelerates muscle recovery three to five times faster than rest alone. Massage lowers blood pressure and increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the vital organs of the body. However, the benefits are not restricted to just the physical. Massage therapy promotes relaxation, releases stress, and helps such problems as headaches and insomnia.
Rosemary: Wow, that’s a big bang for your buck. Can you recommend any simple massage techniques for caregivers that might benefit a loved one with TBI?
Electra: The first time I worked on Hugh, post-accident, I gave him a long foot massage.
Rosemary: I remember that. I’ve tried to give him foot massages, too, but he says I can’t come close to Electra’s massages! There is such a difference in the feeling you get from a professional. I’m sure it has to do with pressure points, and how a trained massage therapist “reads” and responds to each individual body.
Electra: Exactly. State laws govern massage therapy. Most states require at least a year of school as well as “hands on” practice hours. Most states also require the massage therapist to pass a national written exam.
Rosemary: Do you have any advice for caregivers seeking massage as therapy?
Electra: Get a massage at LEAST once a month. There are different types of massages to choose from. Check here to find the right type for you. Caregivers should discuss with a licensed therapist what kind of massage they want and their pressure preferences before the massage begins. If the caregiver isn't getting what she want during the session, she should speak up.
Rosemary: What is your best advice to caregivers?
Electra: I think caregivers need to give themselves permission to take care of themselves. It will make them better caregivers. You know when you are on an airplane and they are going over the safety rules? They always say if the oxygen mask comes down, you should put YOUR mask on first then help those around you. It’s the same thing with caregivers.
Rosemary: I agree. Here’s a suggestion for all you caregivers out there. Try a massage just once. If you can’t afford one, ask for it as a gift for your birthday or special holiday. If you can, make it a healthy lifestyle change.