Essentials oils, massage and spinal cord injuries

One of the areas I have most enjoyed working with as complementary therapist is on paraplegics. I first worked in this area in 1997 whilst in Australia and during the time I was studying what is now called Neuroskeletal Re-alignment Therapy (NSRT) in the UK (see This is a non-manipulative therapy that works through the central nervous system and energy systems (chakras and meridians) and has proved very successful for both neurological disorders as well as musculo-skeletal conditions. I now teach this technique at diploma level through Complementary Health Professionals and you can read the course outline by clicking here and following the links.

Pippa-Jane Thomas carrying out NSRT at CAMExpo in 2015.

My first introduction to this type of injury was in Australia to a young man who had a complete lesion at the level of T11/T12 and his MRI scan, four years after being worked with NSRT showed a normal spinal cord at the injury site. Previously, the fractured vertebrae had impinged on his spinal cord, distorting it. After being worked on with NSRT, this client had started to feel aching in the buttocks and was able to swim with the use of flippers, as he could now move his feet - this is absolutley true and yes, amazing. As well as NSRT, he also had regular massage and the two treatments were alternated every other week.

The Case Study

On my return to the UK, I was eager to work on some paraplegics the same way and was lucky enough to have a couple of willing volunteers. One of these in particular agreed to come and see me weekly for alternate treatments of NSRT and as an Aromatherapist, I decided that I would of course include essential oils in the massage treatments. The client presented with a complete lesion at T4/5. A complete lesion is one where motor and sensory function is absent below the level of injury. It can be due to a severance of the spinal cord, by nerve fibre breakage due to stretching of the cord or due to ischemia of the cord resulting from interruptions of the total blood supply.

After a year of work, the client could start to feel me stroking his back below the fracture site and the treatment affected his spasms and he could feel a sensation coming as he described “from below water” when his toes were squeezed. He also reported a cold feeling around his groin. All of these sensations, although seemingly nothing to you and I, were wonderful to someone who had lost all previous sensations in this area. He also stopped referring to his body as someone else and “re-owned” it, saying my legs instead of the legs.