Massage Case Studies

The following treatments and observations took place at Mother Theresa’s Mission in Calcutta, India during 3 days in March 2011.

Please note that there may be some inaccuracies in this article for the following reasons:

  • Most of the information I have on the patients came from a volunteer with no medical training and only a basic understanding of the Indian language. (But he had the largest heart <3).
  • Many patients could not communicate well due to physical trauma or mental illness.

Stroke Victim

Patient’s Condition:

  • This patient had previously suffered a severe stroke.
  • He sat most of the day and could not walk under his own power.
  • His arm and shoulder were “stuck” in a typical post stroke position: glenohumeral joint was internally rotated, bicep was in spasm with the elbow permanently flexed, wrist and fingers stuck in flexion.  He had no  mobility of this arm as it was permanently in this position.


  • With the goal of giving him some mobility of his arm, the following was done:
  • Rolfing of the infraspinatus and supraspinatus
  • Rolfing of the pectoralis major and minor
  • Myofascial release technique (MRT) and golgi tendon technique (GTO) of the bicep brachii
  • Rolfing of the intrinsic finger flexors
  • Active assisted squats


  • After 3 days of treatments, the patient had more mobility of his shoulder, elbow and hand.  In particular, his hands were more supple and flexible due to the decreased spasm of his finger flexors.
  • The assisted squats that we did perhaps had the biggest effect.  The simple act of training him to use his legs again awoke something in him.  He started to believe that his legs were still useful.  He gained confidence and where he would be content to spend the entire day sitting or lying on the ground, he would now initiate standing and doing half squats on his own.


Rickshaw Puller

  • This gentleman supported his entire family by pulling his rickshaw for fares.  In an accident, he received a severe blow to the top of his skull.  This compression injury left him in severe pain and unable to walk without the aid of a walker.  He had tremendous spirit though and it was remarked that out of all the patients, he tried the hardest to get better.  He still had hopes of being well enough to pull his rickshaw again.


  • He had chronic pain in his groin, low back and legs and great difficulty walking.  His hip flexors were in spasm.


  • Relief of nerve compression with cervical traction and lumbar traction
  • Stretch hip flexors, active fascial release of the sacrum


  • The patient reported a decrease in pain.
  • The patient felt stronger and was able to walk short distances without the walker



Broken Femur:

  • The patient’s femur was previously broken and was not properly set.  As a result, the femur bone was not perfectly straight, but rather at a 160 degree angle.  The leg was severely swollen.

Treatment and Results:

  • Nodal pumping at the groin lymph nodes and manual lymphatic drainage of the femur resulted in an immediate noticeable decrease in swelling of the femur.


Liver Damage:

  • This patient was suffering from swelling in his right hand and both legs due to liver damage.

Treatment and Results:

  • Nodal pumping of the chest, arm pit, and groin, combined with manual lymphatic drainage resulted in an immediate noticeable decrease in swelling in all the affected areas.


Badly Set Tibia:

  • This patient’s tibia had been previously broken and was not properly set straight.  Both legs were swollen, the skin over the swollen area was peeling and flaking off.  The patient’s leg muscles were very hypertonic and seemed hard as a rock.  It seems that the dry skin and hypertonic muscles were due to a decrease in mobility and circulation as walking was too painful for the patient.

Treatment and Results:

  • My goals were to improve the mobility he still had, decrease the swelling, and improve circulation.
  • I performed rhythmic mobilizations of the toes and ankles
  • Effleurage of the legs combined with nodal pumping of the groin and popliteal area
  • By the end of the treament, the swelling had reduced, the muscles were supple and the patient had greater mobility.