Blind therapists help Mexicans deal with stress

January 26th, 2011 - 9:58 am ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, Jan 26 (IANS/EFE) A massage parlour in Mexico city has been providing residents its services for almost half a century - but with an all-blind therapist staff.The massage parlour’s services are a big relief for residents having muscle pain and stress that originate from living in a metropolis of 20 million people. Around 20 to 30 people of different ages head to the downtown parlour every day to seek relief from ailments like dislocation, tension, minor backache, and even facial paralysis.

Eight blind therapists are happy to be working at the centre and take pride in their job, and especially in the fact that it has enabled them to earn a living, without having to beg on the streets like many other people with serious visual problems.

“We do it in a professional manner and at a low cost for children, young people and adults,” said massage therapist Guillermo Frias, who has worked at the Dr. Alfonso Herrera Center for six years.

Most customers are young people looking “for relaxation from the stress caused by work, traffic, and the pressure of this chaotic city”, Frias said.

The centre, with four small cubicles, requires that its therapists hold the Professional Massage Therapy Technician diploma offered by the National School for the Blind.

Therapists use chiropractic, accupuncture and physical therapy techniques, said therapist Leonardo Guayuca Peralta, adding that he once worked as a peddler but decided to study so that he could move ahead in life.

Don Justo, one of the eldest therapists at the centre, now works with just one patient a day. But he has a loyal group of customers who have been coming to him for over 20 years.

“The majority of patients end up happy. We try to please them with everything, they end up cured of everything from a headache to a bad mood,” said Don Justo, who at times experiences pain in his own hands if he works too long.

He says he uses a wet heat technique, especially with patients seeking “a little bit of relaxation”, and a small massager powered by an old motor for people having backaches.

The veteran massage therapist also uses oils, creams, talcum and lamps to treat patients.

The centre provides “hope and cure” because “here you can find relief from many troubles that don’t let you eat, sleep or walk”, said Aurelia Ortiz, the only female therapist at the centre.

Mexico City has 15 associations for the blind, with most of the groups mainly focusing on cultural activities.

The National School for the Blind offers humanities and massage therapy courses and has the country’s largest collection of Braille books with a total of 1,500 volumes and 700 recorded books.

About 31,576 people - or 0.36 percent of the district’s population - have some kind of visual disability, the last official report on the subject found in 2005.

Many of the capital’s blind people work as peddlers, with large numbers selling pirated music from car to car.

–IANS/EFE
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