Wearing a face shield, in addition to a mask over the mouth and nose, provides an additional layer of protection. It has been proven that the most common transmission method of COVID-19 is through aerosols or droplets containing the virus being expelled from an infected person into a non-infected person. Logically then, any barrier that we can reasonably put in place to inhibit that transmission will protect us and our clients, especially when we must be less than 3 feet of each other. A clear, plastic face shield can easily serve as such a barrier.

If you’ve been watching the news, you’re well aware that COVID-19 cases are at record levels in Michigan, as well as states across the country. Some massage therapists in online discussion groups are questioning the feasibility of safely staying open at this time. These are certainly valid concerns.

It is advisable to have clients sign an updated intake forms stating with a COVID-19 awareness statement or waiver that there is an increased chance of infection by extended periods of time within close proximity. Like me, I’m sure that it has not been lost on you that, if your clients are at greater risk, we as therapists are too!

Massage Therapy, as with other personal care services, requires we be within less than 6 feet of our clients in order to provide them treatment. Social distancing is therefore impossible in our work. What then? Are there additional precautions we can take in order to keep ourselves safe?

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MI OSHA) has released guidelines for personal care services. That includes occupations who, like Massage Therapists, cannot follow social distancing protocols in the course of our work. In addition to the protocols we are all familiar with at this time, MI OSHA has also asked those performing personal care services to, “Consider face shields (in addition to face masks) when employees are unable to consistently maintain a 3-foot separation from others.” This includes what we do in our treatment rooms as Massage Therapists.

Wearing a face shield, in addition to a mask over the mouth and nose, provides an additional layer of protection. It has been proven that the most common transmission method of COVID-19 is through aerosols or droplets containing the virus being expelled from an infected person into a non-infected person. Logically then, any barrier that we can reasonably put in place to inhibit that transmission will protect us and our clients, especially when we must be less than 3 feet of each other. A clear, plastic face shield can easily serve as such a barrier.

In addition to masking, Irene’s has begun implementing an upside-down face shield protocol while massage is being performed in class or clinic. The person doing the hands-on work (instructor or student therapist) is now required to wear a plastic face shield in the reverse position while doing hands-on work of any kind.

In many cases, wearing the clear plastic face shield in its intended position serves a practitioner well. It provides protection for nail techs, tattoo artists, etc. for most of the work they do. However, for Massage Therapists, thinking about the type of work we do, and the position we are in relative to our clients, will reveal that modification in wearing the face shield is beneficial.

Massage therapists are typically in a position where we are physically above our clients. If the face shield is worn with the band over the forehead, as the design intends it to do, this leaves a significant amount of exposure under the chin and around the sides of the face. Wearing the face shield in the reverse position, with the band around the neck, provides more protection for our clients. At the same time, the shield can protect the therapist if a client should sneeze or cough releasing droplets through their mask.

There are face shields now being manufactured adding credibility to this modification. The shield was designed to accommodate workers in service industries. This shield can be seen here. Click Here >

With the exponential growth in case rate, the odds become greater every day that we will be in closer contact to someone who is positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. At the end of the day, especially in these times, it makes the most sense as healthcare practitioners that we do all we can to keep those who entrust us with their personal care safe.

To review the entire MIOSHA protocols for personal care services, it can be found here with specifics regarding Personal Care Services on p. 19, and p. 26-37  Click Here >

Be safe and be well,
Paul Mattson, LMT

Come Visit Irene’s for a Tour

Wellness topics like the one covered above are part of our massage therapy curriculum. If you’re interested in topics like these or in massage school in general, we invite you to visit Irene’s massage school to see our campus and get a feel for our environment.

In fact, we are so confident that we are the best school for you, if you come in for a tour of Irene’s and then enroll in a massage program at another school, we will pay $50 towards your registration fee at that school. A check will be written to the institution with proof of enrollment in a massage program.