To hurt is as human as to breathe.
J. K. ROWLING
There has been no person who has not experienced some type of injury or trauma in his/her lifetime. We are all connected in the rawness of life by the pains and joys it brings. Why, then, is it that we often feel disconnected from human compassion and nurturing when seeking medical care? I’ve experienced, and frequently clients relay to me, the feeling of being passed through the medical system without thought or care. It’s as if the personhood has become irrelevant while the disease/condition is paramount as a separate entity.
I often think about why I decided to pursue physical therapy. 19 years ago, I was an injured dancer with little help from the medical community with rehabilitating my painful knees. It wasn’t until I met Linda Kozora, PT that I saw someone with the passion to provide education for better function while also giving support through the process of healing. This life changing event impressed on me a kindness that could exist in the medical community and the power that compassion and encouragement can have on a person dealing with an injury. Lately, though, it seems as if this passion-driven practitioner has gone missing, with the act of healing being replaced instead by “fixing.”
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was very poignant on this subject. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/04/25/should-a-doctor-be-like-a-gardener/
In this article, Victoria Sweet illustrates a fantastic paradigm shift in viewing the human body while also touching on our ability to offer our humanness to our clients as a connection point for the facilitation of healing.
Sweet’s thoughts on facilitating healing in patients are comparable to several of the types of therapy we provide here at A Turning Pointe Physical Therapy. Structural Integration, the brainchild of Ida Rolf, was born from the philosophy that “When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.” The underlying principles of Structural Integration are rooted in the notion that balancing the body in all directions, front to back, side-to-side, inside to outside, promoting an integration of all connective tissue within the body. Since the body works together as a whole, any misalignments interfere with this wholeness. Rolf believed that through integration, wholeness and balance could be restored, thereby reducing emotional as well as physical stress. This philosophy is what led me to begin practicing Structural Integration (Rolfing) and to open A Turning Pointe Physical Therapy in 2003.
Similar principles of self-correction are mirrored in Frank Lowen’s Dynamic Manual Interface (DMI) work. DMI utilizes the body’s self-corrective mechanisms to improve tissue mobility, biomechanics and system balance. While the basic concepts of DMI are simple, the training for the hands and the mind is extensive. Laurie Levine-Lowen, OTR and Gene Suzuki, PT are two very gifted providers who are passionate to provide DMI at A Turning Pointe Physical Therapy.
A key in the interplay between practitioner and client lies in the dialogue that occurs in a session. There is value in both diagnosing and treating, but more important is the education that the practitioner can give the patient. This is especially highlighted in the Hanna Somatics work provided by Serena Coleman, MPT. Hanna Somatics is a technique developed by Thomas Hanna which involves neuromuscular retraining through the body’s own feedback system. The client is guided through movements to increase their awareness of a particular pattern of neuromuscular dysfunction which is causing pain, discomfort or limiting their abilities. Then with the assistance of the therapist, the client develops a new integrated pathway to achieve movement in a healthy, balanced, and non-painful approach.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) and Visceral manipulation (VM) are two additional services provided at A Turning Pointe Physical Therapy by Donna Harmon, PTA and Linda Kozora, PT. These methods are specifically designed to help the body to self-correct. CST, as defined by Upledger, is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions in the tissues that surround the central nervous system. The releases help to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve health and performance. VM, as defined by the Barral Institute, assists functional and structural imbalances throughout the body including the musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urogenital, respiratory, digestive, and lymphatic systems. VM is an integrative approach to treatment that focuses on the dynamics of movement as they relate to the organs, membranes, fascia, and ligaments in the body.
Finally, Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is another service provided at A Turning Pointe Physical Therapy. Damage to the lymphatic system can occur in many ways including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, trauma, and vascular insufficiency. Since the lymphatic system aids the immune system in removing and destroying waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, toxins, and cancer cells, damage to this system can cause excessive lymph fluid to accumulate in the tissue. By providing MLD and educating the client is self-massage at home, the lymphatic vessels are stimulated to push the backed up lymph fluid into small capillaries to allow for drainage, filtering, and excretion of this fluid. Nola Petrucelly, PT and Donna Harmon, PTA provides MLD at A Turning Pointe Physical Therapy.
It has long been my belief/philosophy that an integrative approach to care combined with compassion has proven to be the best combination to facilitate healing. A quick fix in medicine loses sight of how the body is made to heal itself. Additionally, when we realize that a body is estimated to have over six trillion reactions taking place at any given moment, even a small bit of support for the healing process can ignite a more permanent resolution. Just as Voltaire once stated “amuse the patient while nature cures the disease.”