History of the American Medical Massage Association
Nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and along the western sand beaches of the state of Michigan, is the American Medical Massage Association (AMMA). The AMMA is located in the city of Muskegon where a river meets the lake at a place that's been know as the Lumber Queen of the world, the Port City and the Riviera of the Midwest.
It is no accident that Muskegon has become the home of the AMMA. This historic city with its small town culture and lakeside atmosphere is an ideal location for an association dedicated to bringing old time moral and ethical values along with progressive ideas and science to massage therapy.
What is now known as the AMMA was begun in 1998 as the idea of a small group of health care professionals in Michigan who believed that a change in the practice and identity of massage therapy was urgently needed. This small group represented a diverse multi professional collection of lay massage therapists, physicians, and allied medical personnel. They recognized that the US massage community was beset by serious challenges related to ethical behavior, public identity, academic validity and appropriate clinical practices.
It was Timothy L. Fitzgerald, M.D. at Mary Free Bed Hospital that first suggested the use of the descriptive identity "Medical Massage" by the American Medical Massage Association.
And in 2001 Massage Today became the first massage periodical to recognize the AMMA and publish articles on medical massage prepared by the association.
One of the first communications created and released by the AMMA was its unity statement. With the unity statement the AMMA wanted to assure the general massage community that while we may differ in our methods of and approaches to massage therapy, the AMMA would adhere to a commitment to serve and support all massage therapists.
The AMMA believes that unity is the most important need today of the US massage community and we have repeatedly demonstrated that we are willing to sacrifice our own professional interests for the principle of unity.
From 1999 on, the AMMA published a long series of articles, some of which were published in popular massage periodicals, which investigated definitions and scientific standards for medical massage therapy. The AMMA published articles which cited and explained the relevance of current scientific research in the fields of human biology, biomechanics, biochemistry, physical therapy, psychology, chiropractic, and medicine that directly related to massage.
The AMMA established minimum educational requirements for membership in the AMMA in 1999 and this minimal requirement was defined as 600 hours of training in an approved AMMA school. Since 1999 the AMMA has developed other educational standards for medical massage and has developed medical massage curriculum up to the 2400 hour level.
In 1999 the AMMA also developed the first medical massage national certification exam. The first exam, which is now the AMMA diplomate exam, was six hours in duration and included questions in multiple formats. The diplomat exam was developed for masters and doctoral level AMMA members. In 2002 the second AMMA medical massage exam was delivered and this test was an abbreviated version of the larger exam.
We are pleased to report that in May, 2006, the AMMA exam was the second massage national board exam to achieve psychometric validation, and the first to do so through a U.S. Department of Education approved institution: Center for Statistical Training and Consulting at Michigan State University, headed by Sandra E. Herman, PH.D. The AMMA exam received astoundingly high marks in demonstrating test validity in all areas: Content, Construct, and Criterion Validity for measuring knowledge of massage therapy, as a measurement of medical massage knowledge and practices, and as a professional credential.
Also in 2000, the AMMA "duplicated" itself into two AMMA associations, the American Medical Massage Association and the American Manual Medicine Association. The American Manual Medicine Association is an administrative affiliate of the AMMA, but its membership is reserved for masters and doctoral level professionals. Both organizations have the same administration and the same advisory board.
That year the AMMA assembled a significant body of scientific research related to manual medicine and manual therapy and initiated meta-analysis of the data contained within these studies. Some of this information appeared in AMMA published articles and specifically in a document entitled, "Significant and current research in medical massage and manual therapy."
In 2002 the AMMA became a member of the National Organization for Competency Assurance, or NOCA.
The AMMA operated without a paid staff and as an all volunteer organization until 2002 when it officially retained its first director. Prior to hiring its first director in late 2002, the AMMA contracted out all of its administrative operations related to membership and insurance. The AMMA was officially reorganized in 2003 as a non profit corporation. The AMMA is now organized into two business entities, one a non profit concern and the other a for profit business. The AMMA operates with a small paid staff and all monies collected by the AMMA are retained by the association for operating expenses and development.
The AMMA board of advisors is a multi disciplinary group of health care professionals that includes representation from chiropractic, naturopathy, naprapathy, medicine, nursing, psychology, and massage therapy.
In keeping with its educational mission in 2004, the AMMA greatly accelerated and expanded its production of educational materials and now has numerous manuals, CDs, and DVDs available to its members on subjects related to medical massage, and alternative and complimentary medicine. The AMMA how has over forty educational products available.
In 2005 the AMMA established itself as a state licensed massage school and its long term training programs are approved by the Michigan Office of Post Secondary Education.
Also in 2005 the AMMA joined the International Association of Continuing Education Training (IACET).
2006 and 2007 saw growth of the association across the country, higher demand for our training and continuing education programs, and an increased awareness of the AMMA in several local and state legislative arenas.
As we look toward to 2008, we are eager to continue our pursuit of the AMMA goals: