Volume 93, Issue 35

Tuesday, November 2, 1999


The stress of a first-year student

Gently massaging the backside of health care cutbacks

Gently massaging the backside of health care cutbacks

©Graphic by Terry Warne

By Clare Elias
Gazette Staff

An increased interest in the area of alternative medicine has prompted many within the industry to question its popularity.

A large number of individuals are turning to the therapeutic tools of massage therapy and the ancient practice of yoga, in search of relief from stress-related health issues. Those offering such services and techniques have noted health care cutbacks as the possible reason behind this affluent business.

Valerie Petriche, a yoga instructor at the Yoga Studio in Toronto, has been teaching the art of yoga for the past 20 years. She said her students are mostly within the age group of 35 to 55 years of age and said they come to the lessons with hopes of improving their health.

"We have helped individuals suffering from AIDS, but mostly we deal with people with suppressed immune system and auto-immune deficiencies. People with lupus and [Multiple Sclerosis] also come to us because of yoga's capabilities," she said.

Petriche explained Yoga cleanses and purifies the body through a series of postures. There are the basic directional body techniques, such as forward, backward, twist and upside down. As the student progresses, the techniques become more complicated.

Petriche added the art of yoga is becoming increasingly more prevalent. "The rise in interest in alternative medicine is because of health cutbacks. More and more 'baby boomers' are wanting longevity and their needs are not being met by the medical practice," she explained.

Becky Pieterman of the London Massage Therapy Centre said her clients are mostly within the age group of 25 to 50 years of age. "The youngest patient is of age five and we treat such people for circulation. But most people who come are here to get relief from stress," she said.

Pieterman said she believed the recent increase of interest in massage therapy was due in large part to cutbacks and long waiting lists for surgery.

Kevine Finnergy, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, agreed there is an increased interest in alternative medicine. However, he could not say if the rise correlated to government cutbacks. In Ontario, Finnergy said the Ministry will be adding funding to hospitals for the year 2000. He said the new year would see an increase from $6.8 billion to $7.2 billion in the province.

Kathy Burrill, manager of communications at St. Joseph's Health Centre in London, said it is not possible to attribute one event to another in terms of health care.

"The system is a web of inclusion. When you touch one part, it's felt in other parts. The health care system is a very linked system and when one change occurs, it's felt in other places, showing that all things have an impact. It's difficult to isolate how one change impacts another."

Burrill added most people who go to massage therapists are seeking treatment in primarily hand and upper limb parts. While she agreed there is a waiting period for non-emergency surgery, the wait is not specific to any one area.

"People who are waiting for elective surgery may also be doing physio, besides going to a massage therapist," Burrill said, adding individuals will always be interested in different outlets of health care.

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