Second Opinion

National Physical Therapy Conference

Last updated: March 6, 2013

National Physical Therapy Conference

April 20th sees the 2nd annual National Physical Therapy Conference - upgraded this year to the Aviva stadium.  There was a time when physical therapy was a term not in common use in Ireland but recently it seems to be applied to an increasing number of disciplines.  These days it is sometimes used as a catch-all term for groups of therapists that focus on manual methods of treating muscle related problems.  Some of those groups have their own clear and long established identities.  But as research emerges and interest grows, advances bring new approaches and the family grows.

A National Conference is designed to present those advances to the industry and that makes it an interesting event to support.  The Priory Clinic is proud to be to the fore in bringing together industry leaders and showing its commitment to musculo skeletal health.  In the same way that each Clinic is offers its patients a variety of approaches, the Conference will be presenting a number of different viewpoints to its delegates. 

And we will be drawing on wide constituency – we hope – for the same delegates.  Most will be numbered among those who have passed through the portals of the Institute of Physical Therapy, but others will come from different traditions and all, hopefully, with an eagerness to learn new things.  A mix of different approaches can help one profession build an understanding and respect for another which seems a sensible approach likely to benefit the public most. 

Within the Physical Therapy will be some uneasy bedfellows; competition often causes a degree of discomfort especially to the established.  But society encourages competition believing that the consumer quickly becomes the winner. 

Attending a Conference is a chance to build on knowledge, network, gain exposure to new ideas, refine skills, and enjoy yourself.  It is open to the public and further information is available here.

By John O’SullivanLeave a comment  

First, Among Equals

Last updated: February 2, 2012

First, Among Equals

These days I reflect wistfully on the evangelism I tried to bring to Physical Therapy when I first became involved.  Partly I suppose because it didn’t exist in the ‘80’s it may have needed someone to passionately promote it.  So convinced was I then of its efficacy I was sure if we just could get our hands on one really famous (but problematic) back and ‘cure’ it, Physical Therapy would be set for life.

Well, that initial exuberance is worn off a little now.  Certainly more people know about and have benefitted from the unique approach we brought.  And in the meantime we’ve successfully treated many backs and perhaps even ‘cured’ some. 

One thing I know for sure is that ‘cure’ is not a good word to use.  And it should be used sparingly -if at all- in a treatment context.  The longer I live and the more I read and see, the smaller seems the margin between ‘cure’ and ‘relapse’.  One wonders sometimes if the problem we thought cured had really ever gone away.  Does any diagnosis hit as hard a whammy as one containing the word ‘relapse’. 

That leads me to think that the few who claim to ‘cure’ are sometimes setting prospective patients up for a disappointment.  Or maybe setting themselves a standard that can’t be achieved.

In the same way, a claim that a therapist has treated (or even cured) a celebrity’s back sets me thinking.  Does the celebrity experience in some way make the practitioner better qualified to treat, say, a commoner's back? 

Is it better to treat a face from TV than a voice from Radio?   Is there more kudos for curing the winning competitor than the runner-up. 

Do people really believe that the characteristics of their problem are so close to that of their idol that the approach that worked for one has a higher probability of success in the case of the other? 

Maybe the true measure of a Therapist’s worth should be as much how many ordinary lives they improved as how many extraordinary lives they touched.  Shouldn’t one painful back merit treatment in exactly the same way as any other?

As time wears on I meet more and more people here whom we could not help – but who made progress elsewhere.  Today, I feel mostly relief when I hear ex-patients are pain-free. Yes, it would be even better if that had been achieved for them at The Priory Clinic.  But, I console myself that if we provided a step for them on their journey by ruling out a soft-tissue involvement or pinpointing another cause, then our role may have as much or more merit than that of the guru claiming the ultimate ‘cure’. 

There are many approaches to the treatment of problems - no one of which seems to have all the solutions and The Priory Clinic provides only a few. 

We understand that a given set of techniques while successful for one person need not achieve the same results in a second seemingly identical problem.  And any step on the journey to recovery is worthwhile with the first as deserving of acknowledgement as the last. 

And finally, when you come to visit, our focus is all on your problem alone.  We weren’t secretly longing for a bigger star – just happy to see you and help where we can. 

By John O’SullivanLeave a comment  
Tags: physical therapy, physiotherapy, celebrities, master mcgrath

Kenny Egan - My Story

Last updated: December 7, 2011

Kenny Egan - My Story

Having read his autobiography, I now know things about Kenneth Egan, that I have never discussed with even my best friends. In fact, I imagine he will still feel a sting in January from the endless back-slapping he will enjoy from every passing male!

It is more than a little disappointing however, that if he fails to regain his Irish Senior title in January, the sordid exploits of his drunken nights, may be our lasting memories of Irelands Olympic Silver medallist.

The book gives a brutally honest account of the factors which lead to Egan's very public plummet to self-confessed alcoholism. Ironically, attention and media coverage played major roles. At many points during the book, I wondered why the need to divulge so much personal information.

On the other hand, as a boxing fan, I really enjoyed his insight to the development of Ireland's High Performance boxing unit. Kenneth credits much of his success at international level to the work of his coaches and support team at the National Stadium on Dublin's South Circular road. It is clear, the foundation has been set to ensure boxing will continue to be one of our most successful sports.

Like many top class athlete's, Egan describes the importance of preparation, both physically and mentally. He believes, discovering how to focus on the present and avoid all self- doubt, helped him unlock his true boxing ability.

There are plenty of familiar names to keep the pages turning. We learn how Padraig Harrington gave him advice over a friendly cup of tea, Michael Carruth invited himself into the Egan sitting room and how Serena William's backside could help out if there are no free bar tables.

There are several very sad points in this book, but by the end we are left with an uplifting sense of hope for his determination to stay away from alcohol and box in another Olympic games. For me personally, my perception of a boxing hero has been shattered.  This in itself taught me a very important lesson. From now on, I will not allow sporting success define a person. As Kenneth Egan makes clear, he never asked to be anyone’s hero.

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Born To Perform

Last updated: November 23, 2011

Born To Perform

Born To Perform, by Gerard Hartmann is an autobiographical story-so-far of Ireland’s most renowned Physical Therapist.  It traces how his life has intersected with the early years of triathlon at home and abroad and then, when forced to leave a sport he dominated at National level, how he very quickly established himself as Physical Therapist to the elite stars of the international athletic and sporting worlds. 

 The book is written as a personal account, benefitting from what’s been fairly described as a lively and jaunty style.  The telling is not constrained by standard structures or formalities and benefits from this, perhaps also reflecting the author’s personality, for Hartmann is truly unique in what he has achieved and in how he presents it. 

 The book opens with him in hospital, hip broken, identity shattered and contemplating the sickeningly premature end to his sporting career.  A wandering armadillo has scuttled his dreams of an eighth All-Ireland triathlon victory and doctors have told him to leave a sport in which he has excelled.  True to form, Hartmann doesn’t dwell on the profound disappointment that a career-ending injury can bring, but moves quickly to the decision to focus on a new path and become the ‘best that he can be’.   A theme throughout is the energy, positivity and commitment he brings to his life and his endeavours.  In changing profession we see how effective he is in the application of this philosophy, finding enthusiasm and purpose somewhere from the ashes of a brilliant sporting career.  For whatever accolade he achieved as a competitor, all is surpassed in his second coming as a Physical Therapist.

 The Hartmann patient-list reads as a who’s-who in sport.  His timely interventions by all accounts guide even the most seriously injured athletes from the treatment table through the tape as winners and champions.  Local, national and international stars benefit from his care and the book is thick with testimonials; each breathless recommendation exceeding the previous. 

 Scarcely a year into his course he found himself as adviser to a young – and injured - Sonia O’Sullivan.  Barely graduated, Hartmann is then assigned as therapist to the Atlanta Olympics in 1992 and Carl Lewis - the sensation of the Games is among the first on his treatment couch.  From then on, Hartmann’s magic hands touch an astounding array of Olympic athletes; 61 to date and counting. 

 If you were hoping to read treatment tips or therapeutic techniques to embellish everyday practise, the book would be a disappointment.  Or, if you thought that he somehow took the lessons he learned from the care provided his own injuries and applied them as a template to help him achieve excellence in practise – you’d be wrong again.  What the book does, is to give a clear picture of the energy, drive and passion that Hartmann brought first to his sport and subsequently to the treatment couch.  It is entertaining and inspirational in equal measure and leaves the reader sensing a wealth of untold stories.  Gerard believes in stressing the positive and that the psychological wound must heal just as well as the muscular for the rehabilitation to be effective or complete.  It is testament to the man that he returned to his sport, completed the infamous Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon and achieved gold in his age-group when he reached the summit in the Marmotte, never allowing the post accident prognosis to put a ceiling to his ambition or a limit to his achievement. 

 The armadillo who inadvertently brought a premature end to a young man’s dreams seems to have at least been the indirect salvation of hundreds more in steering a new world-class therapist into a career where he truly has made a difference. 

By John O’SullivanLeave a comment  Categories: Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy, Sports, Sports Clinic, Sports Rehab

Putting The Fizz Into Physio

Last updated: November 3, 2011

Putting The Fizz Into Physio

I read Fiona Reddan’s article When is a physio not a physio (Irish Times, Nov 1st) with interest though it may not have fully represented the similarities between the two leading bodies in the Irish muscular skeletal healthcare sector; physiotherapists and physical therapists. 

The regulating body for physiotherapists in Ireland is the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) and the regulator of physical therapists is the Irish Association of Physical Therapists (IAPT).  Both are long-established voluntary organisations representing their respective members and both operate on a non-statutory basis.  Currently, minimum entry requirements for both are an internationally recognised, 3-year, full-time degree.  Both organisations stipulate a minimum number of CPD hours for ongoing membership.  In each case the public can direct complaints to the respective governing bodies who are empowered to take appropriate disciplinary action.  Private health insurers offer similar levels of cover for both approaches. 

Some – a small number - of practitioners, who are not educated to degree level and consequently would not qualify for membership of either body, misrepresent themselves in the workplace as either ‘physiotherapists’ or ‘physical therapists’.  For some years, physiotherapists have claimed to have a ‘large file’ of this kind of misrepresentation but presumably it does not involve members of the professional body – the IAPT -  as no evidence to this effect has been produced.  It is worth stating that physical therapist members of the IAPT have an impeccable record of service in the community, now stretching from the 80’s. 

What differences there are revolve around the fact that physical therapists specialise in private practise whereupon their education and training is totally focused.  They come to the profession as mature students to provide a patient-centred approach using their unique “hands-on healthcare” and as such have established themselves as worthy and effective healthcare providers.  Only the largest representative organisation from each country can join the World Congress of Physical Therapists and in this case the honour falls to physiotherapists.  A recognised degree is not mandatory for membership and member countries refuse to recognise each other. 

Physical therapists work alongside and respect other healthcare professionals.  For many years the training body for physical therapists in Ireland – the Institute of Physical Therapy, has offered to fund a joint programme under the auspices of the Department of Health and Children explaining the differences between both approaches.  This would ensure that the public continues to have access to both physiotherapy and physical therapy, can choose either with knowledge and confidence and enjoy the benefits of competition in what is otherwise an often-sheltered environment. 

By John O’SullivanComments: 2 Leave a comment  Categories: Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy, Physiotherapy

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