Blog Post

An Alternative Called Integrative Manual Therapy

KF writes: "I heard through a Catholic friend about a kind of therapy to help my chronic back problems, but it started to talk about aligning fluids and stuff and am wondering if this method is part of the new age or not. Any info would be appreciated."

From what I have found, Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) is considered an alternative medical practice whose practitioners are often involved in other holistic forms of therapies such as energy healing techniques (Reiki, Hands of Light, etc.), homeopathics, and matric energetics which are classic New Age. However, it's also in use by physical and occupational therapists and chiropractors.

Developed in the U.S. in the 1980's by Sharon Weiselfish Giammatteo, PT, PhD, IMT is described as being a kind of soft tissue massage that is aimed at helping the body achieve the right balance with improved mobility and movement, circulation, sensory function and immune responsiveness. In addition to using the hands on the body, IMT practitioners also "palpate" various rhythms in the body such as the heartbeat, craniosacral rhythms (considered to be pseudoscientific) and muscle rhythms.

"Addressing these rhythms or motilities, is like a very gentle form of CPR, where the practitioner uses a very specific pressure in a very specific location to balance a rhythm in the body. Most therapy sessions last a total of 60 minutes and several sessions will be most likely be recommended depending on your goals," says a write-up on the practice on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website.

"Proponents of the technique believe that, after the therapy, the mobility of the joints and flow of circulation, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid will be corrected and that connections between the nervous system and immune, digestive, and musculoskeletal systems will be improved, prompting a feeling of relaxation and increased energy."

However, the author adds, "more scientific studies must be done to verify these statements."

This explains why I was unable to find any published and peer-reviewed studies on the main website for IMT. The only research they provide is that done by proponents of the practice.

Even though IMT is essentially safe because it's non-invasive and involves nothing more than a gentle manipulation of the skin, muscles and joints, its lack of scientific credentials and close association with practitioners who dabble in New Age methods makes me unable to recommend it.