Massage helps a courageous burn survivor recover from daunting injuries and terrible pain, both physical and emotional. Her docs and therapists successfully advocate for reimbursement for this critically important CAM intervention. 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 fell into a coma. When she finally regained consciousness, the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami designed a series of massage treatments to try to relieve her agony.

"With severe burns such as these, medications, even morphine, cannot eliminate the pain," explained her burns specialist, Michael Peck, M.D. But the massages worked. "It was wonderful," she recalls. "For the first time, the pain went away, and it didn''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. Yet her insurers refused to cover the massage therapy on the grounds that it had no "proven" benefits. And, unable to work, she could not pay for the sessions.

After an 18-month-long campaign by her physicians and the Touch Research Institute, her insurers finally relented. And the good news for trauma victims today is that when doctors insist on massage as part of pain management, a growing number of insurers are likely to pay for it.

[Ed. Note: For more information on burn recovery, come to this year’s World Burn Congress on October 13-16 in Raleigh Durham, NC, sponsored by the Phoenix Society. It’s for burn survivors and the health and fire fighting professionals who work with them. Click on or email [email protected] BR will be speaking there this year and leading a workshop at this extraordinary meeting.]