Business & Enterprise News
Susan’s hands-on research into Thai massage
When therapist Susan Lorrimer asked for volunteers for a unique research project comparing Thai and Swedish massage she got over 200 responses from willing participants.
Those had to be whittled down to 20 and the project at Teesside University is now nearing completion.
The aim of the study is to explore, and compare, people's responses to both Thai and Swedish massage, with a particular interest in people's energy and pain levels.
The project received £5,000 funding through the University’s Graduate Research School and it is hoped the results will help inform clinical practice and support future funding applications for larger scale research projects in this area.
Susan, whose business Posture Tonic provides health promotion training and workshops and is an Incubated Business at Teesside University, said: 'There are so many complementary therapies out there and people do not know what works and what doesn’t. Thai massage is becoming a more well-known therapy but there is little evidence relating to how effective it actually is.
'Through an intensive programme of massage, I am examining and recording if and how Thai and Swedish massage affects people’s energy and pain levels.'
The 20 volunteers are receiving three weeks of Thai massage and three weeks of Swedish massage from Susan. Throughout the process the volunteers’ experiences and perceptions are being recorded through questionnaires, recorded interviews and diaries.
Also involved in the research project along with Susan are Teesside University academics Professor Anna van Wersch and Dr Alasdair MacSween, who collaborated on the research proposal and grant application. MSc Health Psychology graduate Marie Holmes is working as a Research Assistant. Her dissertation was on a branch of complementary medicine and she is carrying out the interviews and data analysis.
Vital University support
'The support from Teesside University has been vital and really helped from an academic perspective,' said Susan.
'I have been a therapist for 10 years and became interested in research because it was accessible through the University. It’s a fantastic experience as I feel I am really contributing to the database of therapy research.'
Dr MacSween added: 'I think this is a really successful research project and collaboration between ourselves as academics and Susan as a practicing therapist. People are using these therapies largely on anecdotal evidence and we don’t really know what works and what doesn’t.
'We hope to continue and develop this collaboration in the future. If our results indicate it is merited we plan to seek funding from an external source for a larger scale project which could help to influence clinical practice, service provision and policy decisions.'
Professor van Wersch said: 'I think there is an incredible need for this kind of research. You can see by the number of people who volunteered that the demand for complementary therapy is extremely high and it is important that we find out more, in a structured and coordinated way, about how it works.'
20 March 2012