Monday, June 22, 2015


This is the final blog in the series about writing textbooks.  Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage is 20 years old but Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage is still a teenager- 16 years old. I have to admit, the first edition had a different title to indicated that the textbook could be used in a variety of bodywork education, Mosby's Basic Science for Soft Tissue and Movement Therapies.  But, by the time the second edition was finished the title changed to specifically target massage therapy. I was finishing my bachelor’s degree at Central Michigan University in health sciences when I began writing the first edition.  I actually received 3 whole  credits as an independent study. The upside of this was that one of the anatomy professors was my supervisor for the project so from the beginning the book was well grounded in factual data. 

I also stretched the text a bit to include content related to other ancient healing systems such as TCM (traditional Chinese medicine).  The intent has been to compare and contrast terminology and find the overlap in content.  For example, there is a correlation between nerve locations and meridian locations. Yin and Yang describe similar functions as Sympathetic and Parasympathetic ANS functions and Law of Five Elements is similar in function to feedback loops and homeostatic mechanisms.   I also included similar comparison to Ayurveda.  There are actually many ways to describe physiological function.  However, the bulk of the content over the years remain western based science and how a massage therapist uses the information during professional practice. 

Essentials is an important word in the title. There are volumes of information about anatomy and physiology and believe me, I have searched through a lot of it over the years. However, a massage therapist need the information presented as it relates to their professional practice.  So, I have sifted and sorted to identify the most relevant information for our work balanced with what is necessary for interaction with other health professionals and what may appear on licensing exams.  What appears in the textbook is the most important content for massage therapy practice as well as a general over view of anatomy and physiology to create a well-rounded learning experience.

Essential Sciences is not just an anatomy and physiology textbook.  The entire title is: Mosby's Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage: Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics, and Pathology.  Biomechanics includes the broad spectrum of bones, joints, muscles as found in most anatomy textbook but Essentials goes one step further and comprehensively explores kinesiology and biomechanics.

Often, the words kinesiology and biomechanics are used interchangeably, which can be confusing. There are similarities and differences, including that they can be defined several ways. Definitions are as follows:


             The study of movement that blends anatomy, physiology, physics, and geometry and relates them to human movement.

             The science dealing with the interrelationship of anatomy and the physiology of the body with respect to movement.

             The study of human movement.


             Application of the mechanical principles in the study of living organism.

             The science of movement of a living body, including how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to produce movement.

             The study of mechanical principles and actions applied to living bodies. This may involve looking at the static (nonmoving) or dynamic (moving) systems associated with various activities.

             The application of mechanical principles such as engineering to human movement.

From these definitions, you can see how the topics are similar but not identical. Consider how the following descriptions support the textbook content:

             Kinesiology is the study of body movement. It involves anatomy and physiology. Kinesiology is much bigger than the study of muscles which is more correctly called myology.

             Developing a treatment plan requires an understanding of kinesiology.

             Biomechanics is the study of the effects of movement on the body. It involves math and measurement.

             Understanding the effects of the mechanical forces applied to the body during massage requires an understanding of biomechanics.

Chapters 7, 8, and 9 cover the anatomy and physiology related to kinesiology. Chapter 10 is about biomechanics. Biomechanics information expands into assessment procedures that are within the massage therapy scope of practice.  These four chapters combined go beyond the typical anatomy and physiology content in most science textbooks.

Essentials also covers pathology and targets conditions most often encountered by massage therapists as well as the conditions often found on licensing exams.

Schools often have different textbooks for the study of bones, joints and muscles and pathology. If you explore Essential Sciences you will find that additional textbooks are not necessary especially when you also use the appendices at the end of the book.

When writing the first edition of the textbook I made a radical move in textbook design.  I moved the nervous system and endocrine system to the second unit position –Systems of Control.   My goodness, back then you would have thought I had rewritten history based on the backlash.  Now we know that massage benefit has as much or more to do with neuro interface than anatomical muscles. There remains too much emphasis on the individual study of muscles in my opinion.  The muscle chapter in Essentials is excellent.  Functional movement is the platform and individual muscle study is wrapped in the bigger understanding the muscle organ, fascia and movement relationships.   However, anatomically and physiologically there is no such thing as an individual muscle.  The nervous system just does not process the rhomboids or the deltoid but movement and the interaction of multiple structures and functions necessary to produce movement.  Also, research into benefits of massage indicate that the neuroendocrine homeostatic functions are most related to relaxation, stress management an pain management , as well as improvement in functional mobility.  I am pleased that I stuck with this textbook organization. It just makes sense.

In the first unit I also include an overview of health and disease so that massage therapists have a view of the big picture that relates to massage outcomes.  Other unique nuances that make the textbook beneficial are practical application features, suggestions about how to learn and a conversational tone.  I am also invested in writing to support learning theory, using a softer conversational style and maintaining a reasonable reading level.  Most of the content comes in at 9th-10th grade reading level.  This is necessary in vocational education.  Ongoing scaffolding and novel repetition to support memory means that content must appear more than once in the textbook. My editors have been supportive and allow me to have the number of pages whenever possible to support this writing style. I will admit I am usually in page count trouble.  It is a give and take for sure, but the Evolve site allow for content to be presented electronically when it won’t fit in the paper book. Just like Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage, Essentials in written to support evidence informed practice, biological plausibility and critical thinking.

I am proud of Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage. I strongly encourage massage therapy educators to use it as the core science textbook instead of a more general A&P text. Textbooks are expensive, especially generalized A&P books.  My publisher, Elsevier has an excellent line of academic anatomy, physiology and pathology textbooks.  Author Kevin Patton has been supportive and generous, allowing me to use illustrations, content and answering questions from his comprehensive A&P textbooks. It is important that authors work in collaboration.  Elsevier as a publisher has supported my vision of author collaboration for the massage therapy textbook line.  This means that the textbooks related to massage mix and match well without confusing students. 

I am often asked why I wrote a therapeutic massage theory and practice textbook and a science textbook instead on combining the two. In my opinion there is too much information in either of these areas to address in one book. Elsevier has a combined text written by Susan Salvo for those educational programs desiring a one book platform and Susan does a great job.  My two foundational textbooks offer the ability to expand content as well as separate content. Yet when used together ,Fundamentals and Essentials present a synergetic learning experience for students and support for teachers.

I teach at my massage therapy school-Health Enrichment Center- from my own books.  My students act as an ongoing reflection of the value of the content and design.  Over the years, students have pointed out typos, errors, confused writing and ability  (or inability ) to comprehend content.  If they are confused with my writing and I am teaching it then it needs to be fixed.  Elsevier is insistent on peer review and I am thankful for all who have made the books better over the years.  I also appreciate the many students at the school that have influenced the textbooks with whining, confused looks, questions, suggestions, overwhelm and eventual understanding.
I expect copyedited manuscript for the 6th edition of Fundamentals and the 5th edition of Essentials this week. My little hiatus will be over. Hopefully my vision continues to improve, both related to eye surgeries and more expansively the past, present and future of therapeutic massage as a profession and path of service.  For me, writing textbooks for current and future teachers and students is a passion. I embrace the responsibility and understand the importance.  I am committed to excellence in massage therapy practice.


No comments:

Post a Comment