Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys

You are here: Home Inspiring Stories Inspiring Story Burn Survivor Finds Massage a Powerful Pain Reliever

Burn Survivor Finds Massage a Powerful Pain Reliever

27 Feb

Years ago, a woman and her fiancé were traveling in a private plane when they got into trouble and plowed into a hillside. He died as a result of burns, and she was severely injured herself, with burns covering all but the soles of her feet.

She was in a coma for quite a while. When she regained consciousness, the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami designed a series of massage treatments to try to relieve her intense pain.

As her burns specialist, Michael Peck MD, explained to her, "With severe burns such as these, medications, even morphine, cannot eliminate the pain."  But the massages worked. She found them wonderfully relieving, and for the first time, the pain would go away and wouldn’t come back until the therapist stopped.  

Those brief pain-free moments gave her courage to face the future, including the repeat surgeries she required.  At that time, her insurers refused to cover the massage therapy on the grounds that it had no "proven" benefits. And, unable to work, she couldn’t pay for the sessions.

Her physicians and the Touch Research Institute launched 18-month-long campaign, and after eighteen months, her insurers relented.  

Nowadays, when doctors insist on massage as part of pain management, a substantial number of insurers will pay for it, she says.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award