The Massage Department

(by an Officer Patient.)

From the November 1916 Edition of the Gazette


Throughout Wandsworth Hospital, during the morning, - the busiest portion of the day, there is no place busier or more animated than the massage rooms Here good-natured banter, laughter cheerfulness, and strenuous activity intermingle to form an atmosphere exclusively its own; and from here one emerges with both a mental and physical tonic - feeling that a most pleasant break has been made in the more or less monotony of routine hospital life, as viewed from the aspect of a patient.

Your first impression is rather apt to be a staggering one, and you certainly feel inclined to retire precipitately when your eye meets all the boxes of tricks around the apparent instruments of torture and weird contrivances. But escape is impossible when a most businesslike person in an undraped surplice, whom you afterwards learn to be called a masseuse comes up and says

"Yes, over on this bed please ! "

Safely ensconced, one begins to individualise and to realise what is being done. Here an arm is being massaged there a leg being moved like a pump handle (a delightful treatment this, dignified by the name of "passive movement "), while other patients are indulging in a radiant heat bath (really appreciated by the writer, this weather especially), or submitting unkindly to the tender mercies of the electric buzzer ('nuff said).


In one corner the latest theatre is an absorbing topic; in another " How we should win the war " - while some-one emphatically remarks that he wishes the Cabinet could have what he is getting. Then a female voice is heard demanding emancipation and votes for women at which the conversation becomes general, ending in absurd suggestions and laughter. Through it all the work never ceases; patients come and go continually, and then the masseuse disappear to various wards to give treatment to those physically unable to visit the massage room.

Even a layman can see that there is nothing haphazard, nothing indefinite, for each patient has his own special course of treatment calculated to produce the best effect for his particular ailment or disability. And of the many hundreds who have passed through, rarely, if ever, has one been heard to say he has not benefited.


The department is recognised as most indispensable to the hospital -- so much so that it is understood that the authorities shortly intend to provide increased space, and install even larger and more complete apparatus.

W. R. H.