Unique research projects drive Case Study course

Massage Therapy students present findings virtually


Woman lying on table receives massage therapy treatment on her back.

Students in Mount Royal's Massage Therapy Diploma program complete research as part of their Case Study course.


If variety is the spice of life, the students in the Case Study course in Mount Royal University’s Massage Therapy Diploma program delivered a perfectly seasoned selection of research projects to complete their studies.

The second-year course in the 2,200-hour diploma program involves creating and implementing individually tailored massage therapy treatment plans to clients selected to take part in a three-month study.

“Traditionally, we see many similar projects in a single year. This year, every student explored something uniquely different which generated learning opportunities for all,” says instructor Laurie Fisher, PhD. “From sleep disorders to femoroacetabular impingement (extra bone growth in the hip joint), the variety of case studies is really amazing. Students are working to ask questions on behalf of their clients to provide best-scenario treatment plans.”

Designed to provide an opportunity for students to understand the effect massage therapy may have on symptoms from various conditions or pathologies, the Case Study course includes five stages with real-world learning. Clients with a qualified condition are invited to take part and receive their series of individually tailored massage therapy treatments at no cost.

“Students are given the tools and opportunity to connect current academic research with related hands-on treatments in order to generate clear and accurate information to generate best practice opportunities for themselves,” Fisher says. “From the initial consultation with complete health history and assessment, to the creation and implementation of an individualized treatment plan, students take the lead.”

Throughout the two-year diploma program that provides the highest level of training required to work in Alberta and across Canada, students learn therapeutic and relaxation massage techniques in an integrated curriculum that features academic content alongside practical, hands-on skill development. They study anatomy, physiology, pathology, business and research.

During their studies, Massage Therapy students also gain practical experience in the on-campus student-run clinic. The supervised learning environment offers relaxation and therapeutic massages, with proceeds going to student scholarships.

After completing treatments in the Case Study course, students presented their findings virtually to an evaluation team that included instructors and industry members. Of the course’s 30 students, 11 are considering submitting their works for research competition consideration for the Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Schools (CCMTS) for the first time this year.

“As massage therapy becomes more widely accepted, consumers are asking important questions about the safety and effectiveness of massage as a health-care intervention. The hands-on research carried out by our students adds to the body of knowledge in this growing field,” says Gillian Lebel, program coordinator with MRU's Faculty of Continuing Education. "We are proud of the work done by these students. Research is an integral part of the Mount Royal community and positions our students for success."

The students’ clinical and classroom learning serve them well after graduation. They apply evidence to practice, communicate evidence-informed treatment plans with clients and other health-care practitioners, and participate in integrated health-care teams in the collective movement to validate and provide credibility to the practice of massage therapy.  (Graduates are eligible to receive transfer credit towards the Thompson Rivers University's Bachelor of Health Science and the University of Lethbridge's Bachelor of Health Science — Public Health.)

For more information on Mount Royal's Massage Therapy Diploma, visit mru.ca/Massage.

June 3, 2021 — Ruth Myles

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