Vertical Reflexology Techniques (VRT) to Support Older People, Dementia and Palliative Care Situations

What does an 85 year old lady, who fell out of bed on all fours, have in common with a 20 year old professional footballer with a swollen knee? Answer: they each received a very brief application of effective Vertical Reflexology Techniques (VRT) before lying on the couch for classical reflexology. Both reported a reduction in knee pain and slightly less swelling at the end of the session.

My VRT concept suggests that the Ingham zones are 3-dimensional and therefore all reflexes can be approached via the plantar or the dorsum when the feet or hands are weight-bearing producing a sensitised, quick and positive response.

VRT is Very Versatile and is Suitable for all Ages and Conditions. 

In my own practice clients have ranged from 2 days to 101 years old!  My discovery of VRT began in the 1990’s at the St Monica Trust care organisation in Bristol, UK. I noticed an enhanced response from working the weight-bearing feet of numerous chronically sick, older people in wheelchairs.  

Later the VRT techniques were refined and adapted to support an elite championship football team where I held a clinic for 16 years. I have conducted observational studies with medics on the benefits of VRT regarding pain and mobility in older persons, with staff in the workplace and in 2016 I took part in a Queen Mary, University of London iBSc medical research project on Reflexology and Football. 

Older People

Many older people suffer from multiple conditions, often involving lack of mobility. I give individually annotated self-help charts for clients to work on their hands with simple self-help VRT Reflexology and Movement between appointments. 

There are specific VRT techniques including help for sleep issues, constipation, neck & shoulders and stress/headaches. This is particularly helpful if joint pain is experienced.

Living with Dementia

There are many forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Relatives often feel helpless to support or communicate especially in the later stages. Reflexology can be a powerful way of tender communication via the passive hands especially when adding the profound VRT Nail-on-Nail working techniques. These comprise a gentle tapping on the nails plus simultaneously holding the dorsal central pituitary nail reflexes for 30-45 seconds. Carers and family can also be taught these simple techniques.

Palliative Care Situations

A therapist’s mission in palliative care is to help the client to live well with the impact of what is happening to their body. VRT lends itself to “adaptive reflexology” as it can be effective in short 5-minute sessions as well as for longer classical treatments.

VRT also supports terminally ill clients who have to sit upright or keep moving positions due to discomfort. VRT Diaphragm Rocking on the passive hands or feet is a profound technique and has been used in many hospices over the years to help relax the client and assist sleep issues.

It is also important to acknowledge that the process of ageing does not always have to be a negative decline. The body has a great possibility of some regeneration given the right impetus via reflexology.

Article Photograph Credit: Eduardo Barrios via Unsplash.

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