a community of practitioners
I feel that moving the profession in the direction of rehab work would be bad for society, and good for the handful of people capable and desirous of doing medical rehabilitation. Why would it be bad for society? Because of the loss of affordable wellness massage, and all the jobs that go along with that. The growing availability of affordable wellness massage is a huge boon in these troubled times. It's a boon both for the general population benefiting from healthy stress and pain relief and for all the good souls finding satisfying work as massage therapists.
This question is central to my life. I'm a physical therapist, a massage therapist, and I direct 2 schools of massage therapy. As a PT who is qualified to work with severely injured patients, including people who have suffered strokes, catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries, amputations, sports injuries, geriatric populations, etc., I'm well aware what kind of training is necessary to do effective rehabilitative therapy. My training was approximately 5,000 hours at a well respected University in a Masters program that lasted 3 years post Baccalaureate, with a heavy load of science prerequisites. My school rejected about 9 students for every one admitted. I consider this the minimum training necessary to practice in a rehab environment as an autonomous therapist. Could some Massage Therapists do this? Absolutely. Should all MT's be required to do this? Absolutely not. At least 90% of all Massage is wellness work not rehab. One can be the world's best wellness massage therapist, and not know how the kidneys work. I'll go out on a limb here and say that one could be able to give a great wellness massage safely without even being aware of the existence of abductor digiti minimi.
I say to those leading our profession that to advocate for elevating the profession of Massage Therapy to the rarified heights of Physical Therapy would be a mistake. The sheer loss of numbers of practitioners in our ranks would diminish any hard won political power the profession has gained over the years. There would be no money left to hire lobbyists at the state level, and not enough massage therapists to support popular use of massage therapy by the general population.
Why reinvent the wheel? Why don't those people who want to work in a medical environment pursue careers as Physical Therapists, and leave the majority of Massage Therapists to practice in peace? As a Physical Therapist, I can assure you that if you dare to follow your dreams into the profession of Physical Therapy you will have ample opportunity to use all the manual skills you can learn and cultivate.