Tui Na Massage by a Robot Masseuse | Health Plus

10 Jun 2021

Tui na, an effective traditional Chinese therapeutic massage, is known to be effective at tackling muscle aches and carries a host of health benefits. There are some who may also benefit from having a robot masseuse perform their tui na massage.

What is a tui na massage and how does it work?

Beyond health screenings and medical consultations, Parkway Shenton also offers Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) modalities such as acupuncture and massage as part of our commitment to provide holistic care for our patients.

Massages have numerous health benefits. In a 2012 study, massages were found to significantly boost the body’s immune system and reduce stress hormones.

In particular, tui na, a form of traditional Chinese therapeutic massage is widely used to treat muscle, bone and tendon pain. The difference between normal massages and tui na massages lies in how tui na targets specific acupoints in the body and uses a variety of techniques to stimulate the body’s energy flow. To do so, tui na practitioners use the techniques of brushing, kneading, rolling, pressing and rubbing the body to reduce blockages and stimulate blood flow in a patient’s body. The benefits of tui na massage include reduced fatigue, relief from menstrual cramps, reduced neck and lower back pain and easing of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also used in the treatment of a wide variety of health conditions such as digestive issues, musculoskeletal disorders and migraines. Tui na can even be used for children to alleviate problems related to diarrhoea, indigestion, cough and asthma.

Where can I go to receive a tui na massage if I need one?

Due to the intricacies involved in administering tui na, tui na massages are typically performed by licensed TCM physicians and physiotherapists, such as those at Parkway Shenton.

However, advances in technology have now enabled patients to opt for their tui na massage to be performed by a robot masseuse as well.

Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, or EMMA, is a robotic massager developed by Singaporean start-up AiTreat. It uses sensors and 3D vision technology to analyse muscle stiffness and determine the optimal course of treatment for patients. Following a consultation with a TCM physician, the prescribed therapeutic massage is performed by EMMA’s robotic arm, consisting of a soft silicone ‘thumb’.

Who can benefit from EMMA?

As EMMA is currently only able to perform back massages, patients who suffer from aches and pains in these areas and wish to opt for tui na massages will be able to benefit from EMMA.

To help you decide if a massage by EMMA may be suitable for you, here are some indicators that you may benefit from having your massage performed by a robot masseuse:

You require longer massages

As tui na massages require a lot of strength and can be labour-intensive, patients who require longer massages may find EMMA’s tui na massage more consistent and comfortable. Compared to massages by massage therapists which can be inconsistent due to human fatigue or error, EMMA provides consistent precision and effort throughout the massage.

Clinically-precise massages are a priority for you

EMMA is designed to deliver clinically-precise massages in consultation with a prescription by a TCM physician. For instance, EMMA can analyse a patient’s blood flow and pressure, detect areas of muscle stiffness, and measure muscle stiffness levels before and after the massage. EMMA is also able to accurately target acupoints in the body. This data helps the TCM physician tailor the massage specifically to the patient’s condition.

You prefer to avoid prolonged human contact during this COVID-19 period

During this COVID-19 pandemic, EMMA may also be a good option for patients who wish to minimise contact with other people and still receive therapeutic treatment. As EMMA is able to provide back massage, patients whose concerns are mainly in these areas can benefit from having EMMA massage them. Patients who require massage on more areas of their bodies can still benefit from EMMA. Person-to-person contact is still minimised as the massage therapist need only focus on other areas of the body that EMMA does not massage - such as the neck, ankle or wrist.

Further considerations in opting for EMMA

Safety will naturally be a big concern for patients who are considering having their tui na massage performed by EMMA. EMMA is equipped with multiple layers of mechanisms in its hardware and software to ensure safety. The force that can be exerted by EMMA during massages is also kept within a safe and comfortable limit.

Final words

It is important to seek treatment if you have been experiencing prolonged muscle, bone and tendon pain. Make an appointment with a doctor or TCM physician to see if you may benefit from a tui na massage or other forms of treatments. The EMMA treatment is currently only available at Parkway Shenton, Toh Yi.


Article reviewed by Dr Lim Tze Chao, family physician at Parkway Shenton


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