Business Director: John O’Sullivan

John O’Sullivan

John writes: "I think discovering my chronic back pain might be the best thing that ever happened me! My first episode was about 35 years ago and served as my introduction to healthcare. Through it I met my wife and found a career where I feel I belong and can make a difference. These days, I joke that I have the “most treated” back in physical therapy history. I was involved in developing the practise in the early 80’s and in opening The Priory Clinic. I feel I am lucky to work with an exceptional team of therapists who always give priority to their patients.  The big reason Priory Clinic patients return is because of the standard of care they find here - and returning patients have built our reputation. When you work as part of a Team, you really have a chance to get to know your colleagues and I can recommend any one of them with absolute confidence. I should know; I have attended them all myself! I love long-distance cycling and find I can train a lot harder as well as manage my back pain with treatment. Because I too am an end-user of the Clinic’s services, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we could make the experience here even better.  So please let me know - email me here."

Articles by John O’Sullivan

When Deals Go Sour

Last updated: September 2, 2011

John O’Sullivan

Our CityDeals promotion expires on September 19th.  One feature of this type of deal is that we get paid only when our clients redeem the voucher – so we would love if we could contact all who still hold vouchers so they can get what they paid for.  Otherwise the opportunity will be lost – and both patient and Clinic become loser.

 Actually, we are trying to work out a way of looking after those who hold unredeemed vouchers who might have been away on holidays or just missed the deadline – just so that nobody gets disappointed.

 The whole promotion worked really well for us introducing us to a lot of new people who might never otherwise have called to see us or heard of our Clinic.

 And the day the deal was launched was the busiest day ever for traffic on our website – far exceeding the day when Susan Boyle (of X-Factor) checked into the ‘notorious’ Priory Clinic. 

 Most people coming to see us were looking for a Massage – or a Deep Tissue Massage for relaxation.  That’s the way the copy writers at CityDeals worded the offer.  If we had been allowed put our own case we would have emphasised how a proper assessment and treatment can help underlying problems.  Really, it doesn’t matter how much the mechanic polishes the bonnet, if the hood needs to be lifted and an in-depth assessment done, the engine won’t purr as it should until that happens. 

 While we are always happy to provide a good Massage where needed, sometimes we found that there might be an underlying problem that prompted that individual to visit in the first place.  Priory Clinic practitioners are primary care therapists qualified to assess and treat a broad range of conditions.  So we like nothing better than getting our teeth into a stubborn problem.  It doesn’t work for anyone when a niggly problem gets a glossing-over. No matter how well you gloss!

 Okay – we admit we might have met a few ‘deal-junkies’ on a carousel following the cheapest gigs in town.  But we also met a lot who were interested in getting the underlying cause identified and sorted out which is what we are best at.  We think these are the happiest; clients who don’t need to re-book.  The ones who do come back are always happy and those who need to come back for more and don’t – are the ones who benefit least. 

 They could well end up worse than they started and even lose their faith in the hands-on and holistic approach to recurring muscle/tendon/ligament problems.  Having a few treatments with the same therapist helps you build a rapport, allows them to figure out the techniques that work best for you and lets you give them the feedback they need to make your treatment-euros work as effectively as possible. 

 And of course – your happiness is our happiness.  So if you have been to see us, felt we made progress and would like to make more – do please call and see us again, real soon!

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Welcome to the Priory Clinic blog

Last updated: May 18, 2010

John O’Sullivan

The Priory Clinic blog features articles and insights from our staff relating to Physical Therapy, Osteopathy, Sports Rehab, Massage Therapies and the conditions we treat at the clinic. Whilst this blog provides information and opinion these should not be taken as advice or a plan of therapy. Information and opinions expressed here are not necessarily the opinion of the Priory Clinic, but are the opinion of the individual blog contributor. For diagnosis and treatment plans please call us on 1800 254 642.

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Top Ten Therapy Books

Last updated: November 10, 2010

John O’Sullivan

A great thing about working with other therapists is having someone to bounce ideas off.  It helps develop a practise in lots of ways and there always seem to be benefits from shared experiences.  Reference books help too and I thought a poll of teacher/practitioners might throw up a useful list and even introduce some new titles. With this in mind I asked our teacher/practitioners to nominate the physical therapy books that helped them most as students and now as practitioners.  Another time, I might try and put a list of general interest books together or self-help books for patients.  My thanks to all who responded by ranking the titles I suggested, and by adding comments and new titles to the original list.

Okay then - drum roll - the Top Ten Therapy Titles (!) are as follows:

Physical Examination of the Spine by Hoppenfeld.  Wasn’t anyone’s number one, but almost everyone rated it highly making it the most popular.  The consensus seemed to be that it was easy to use and follow as well as being a thorough reference.

Orthopaedic Physical Assessment by Magee was just as popular in joint first.  A few people preferred this to all others, it seems because of the amount and range of tests it carries and because it is so helpful in diagnosis.

A distance behind but still in a very creditable third was Pathology; Implications for the Physical Therapist by Goodman.  By all accounts this is a very detailed book.

Beaten by a whisker into fourth was Anatomy and Human Movement by Palastanga.  Again most people voted for it showing its wide appeal.

The third of five books that were very closely ranked is Muscle Energy Techniques by the world-renowned Chaitow.  This is one that is used widely through College and always a handy reference for MET’s.

Called the Bible by some, Travell and Simons Trigger Point Manuals is sixth on our list of ten. 

Murtagh’s Textbook of General Practise was rated by slightly less than half respondents and so makes it way in to the charts in seventh place. 

Muscles; Testing and Function with Posture and Pain by Kendall was very highly rated by a few, suggesting it might not be a widely-known book but one well worth getting.

A handy source of treatment techniques is reputed to be Mulligan’s Manual Therapy; Nags, Snags, MWMS etc. voted by our esteemed contributors into ninth place.

And - is it fair to say - least in last place is Principles of Anatomy and Physiology by Tortora?  Certainly not the least in volume or price and also winning a favour in the opinion of many it is kept as a reference for practise.

If you would like to see the full list Click Here .  Meanwhile, if you have any comments or know of some books you would find helpful, please add them below.  


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The Shape of Things To Come

Last updated: April 18, 2011

John O’Sullivan

It seems that planned or not, our Report on Physical Therapy comes at a good time.  We were very pleasantly surprised by the turn out in Limerick and the welcome it received.  Thanks to all, particularly those who travelled a long way.  It’s delightful that our passion for Physical Therapy burns also within the hearts of the longest-established practitioners.

From the discussion we had, most agreed we are waiting to see how Coalition policy unfolds given recessional constraints.  So far, regulation seems slow since legislation in 2005 and some professions who we thought had asked to be first up, now seem to be nearer the rear of the queue. 

Another significant change is a recent focus on QUANGO-type committees and their desirability.  While all are agreed they can work well, lots of professions with lots of regulating Boards has an unwieldy and expensive look.

Since the IMF arrived in town, there’s been talk of opening up “previously sheltered areas” to competition and health is usually considered among the most sheltered, so any regulation may have to find ways of increasing rather than dampening competition in the sector.  Health is a big spending Department and one likely to work as close as any with the IMF.

Another issue mentioned at the launch was how the roles of organisations evolve. CORU - the regulator - now has a responsibility to protect patients whereas practitioner unions may find themselves across the table defending members rights at a complaint hearing.   Unions once seeking regulation espoused protection of the public as a motivating factor, but post regulation, this becomes someone else's job. 

It is not that it is beyond the wit of man to progress while balancing the above.  More that it presents an intriguing melting pot of synergies where the outcome is unlikely to be the one that seemed obvious at the outset.  For Physical Therapists the Report brings confirmation that regulation will happen for us only after we agree to it.  Those affected may have to wait a while to first see how it will look.  The future, as ever, seems difficult to predict. 

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Taking The Queen’s Shilling (not)

Last updated: October 29, 2010

John O’Sullivan

It’s that time of year again when the dreaded tax return has to be filed. The tip-off that it’s here is the amount of mail with Tax Refund in the subject line that goes straight to my Junk Mail folder.  Somehow my computer just knows that therapists and tax are uneasy bedfellows.

 It’s a funny old world – Revenue doing their utmost to make the process as painless as possible for people but with a system so complicated that not even a handful understand their tax and social welfare entitlements. Could it be that this knowledge is entrusted to only a tiny number of people – a group that, for security reasons, can never be in the same place at the same time?

We thought that this was a good time to write and say there are two ways to get cash back on treatment in our clinics. The first is from a health insurer if you have a policy. Some plans pay up to €25 per treatment. You’ll need to ask us for receipts and submit them as part of your claim.

The second way is that Revenue may allow tax relief on the treatment – so you may be able to claim about €13 back on each session. Again you will need receipts and a form called a MED 1. Just ask us and we can e-mail both. Don’t worry too much if you have missed the cut-off because you can claim for up to four years for yourself and all dependants. The tax relief incidentally (as well as health insurance) applies to a range of medical expenses which can be claimed at the same time.

Michael Ring said in the Dáil yesterday that we should give the country back to the Queen with an apology for making such a mess if she visits next year. He should have stayed shtum; the element of surprise is now lost. Who among us will forget the way Charlie Haughey sneaked that silver teapot on Margaret Thatcher? A truly diplomatic move if ever there was one. To trump it, perhaps Cowen is the man to, in a richly symbolic gesture, surreptitiously slip the keys of Dublin Castle (the home of the Revenue) into the Royal purse. Never a man to take the Queen’s shilling!

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Star Struck, Off

Last updated: February 15, 2011

The Clinic is relieved to announce that it has parted company with Demi Moore who is to post her random musings to a more appropriate forum.  We understand that she may be reconsidering her career choice feeling that she has a more natural aptitude for blogging.  We have invited her to take her various contributions with her to and we will post her contact details once they become available. 

The Management

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See Us On TV

Last updated: April 6, 2011

John O’Sullivan

Our first TV commercial went to air this morning.  Ta Da! (click here to view)

If you like to see it in real life – we will be on TV 3 from just before 8 am to 10 am in the mornings and across the Sky Newtork through the day for the next couple of weeks.

One thing that struck me when we were making it is how old we are getting.   While we have only been in Stillorgan since around 1994, the practise itself started about a decade before. 

Anne Mangan was the sole practitioner in those days and worked from a number of places among them Chambers Health Club which was near the Westbury Hotel, The Well Woman Centre on Leeson Street in its earlier days and also from Fitzwilliam Place.  We found a home (literally and figuratively) for a number of very happy years in Bayview Lawns in Killiney and when we outgrew that moved here to 18 Priory Hall, Stillorgan.  Before long we were expanded next door into number 17 and I guess you could say we like it so much we have never left - just co-located to Shelton Drive in Kimmage!

Happily, some of our patients have never left either.  Most of them we see only from time to time as they need us, but it is always nice to welcome an old friend back.  In fact not only do they come back, but they do even better by sending their friends as well. 

Have a look at the commercial and let us know what you think.  Lots of ads these days promote drugs which no doubt, can be very helpful to some people or for some conditions.  We like to extol the virtues of the natural, drug-free and surgery-free approach though drugs and surgery are also wonders of our time.  All we say is to try the safest way first.

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Putting The Fizz Into Physio

Last updated: November 3, 2011

John O’Sullivan

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. 

Comments: 2   Leave a comment Tags: Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy, Physiotherapy

Physical Therapy - A Good Fit or Bad?

Last updated: August 12, 2011

We established Physical Therapy - College and Clinic -  about twenty years ago so that it would be different to Physiotherapy.  One of our challenges today is to hold firm to the founding philosophy while we earn recognition for what we do.  We think it would be a relatively simple matter to run a copy of a Physiotherapy course and have that recognised (as Physiotherapy).  But we don’t want that and we sincerely hope that neither our students nor patients want it either!  We think our alumni especially would feel let down if Physical Therapy and Physiotherapy were suddenly to become one.

 Whether they like it or not, our profession has been imposed on Physiotherapy and they have watched it grow from modest beginnings.  Today, the award Physical Therapists get when they qualify is recognised at European level in exactly the same way as that given to Physiotherapists.

 Aside from the academic, we believe our graduates are at least as well prepared as any other to meet the demands of private practice and that our focus on preparing students to be self-employed will be especially helpful in recessionary times.  HSE cutbacks are likely to help private practitioners when they hinder others.  Within Physical Therapy, preparation for private practise doesn’t hang on serving an apprenticeship within a public hospital and they don’t have to wait for recruitment bans to be lifted to get a career in private practise going.  In a recession, it is likely there will be less hospital-based treatment available and that more people will seek treatment within their community which is exactly the work for which our graduates are trained.  The EU/IMF are encouraging competition in ‘previously sheltered areas’ and we already know we will dance to the bailout tune for a long time to come.  True, there are a lot more people chasing this market but only a small proportion have a degree or the ability to diagnose as a primary carer.  Many have no training in a clinic or in back-care which can account for about 80% of what an average PT sees. 

Recently arrived degree courses from DCU or Carlow are still trying to establish their own path and identity and some graduates have taken to calling themselves Physical Therapists in an effort to describe what they do.  Last year we met some of our own very first graduates who have now retired from successful careers.  Their efforts and those of hundreds since, have established Physical Therapy as a career many – especially physiotherapists – now want to assume or want to be associated with.

 And what about regulation of the health professions?  This process is only beginning in Ireland.  Many feel we have valuable lessons from an international failure of regulation within banking.  But how those lessons, if any, are applied remains to be seen.  Associations who once pursued regulation to protect the public have to adopt a now adversarial role as a protector of their members against the sanctions that a Regulator can apply.  Regulated professions face new challenges; criteria for entry, for professional development, for practice, for compliance as well as having to carry the associated costs of being seen to implement the new values.  Change imposed by the Regulator is seldom unanimously welcomed, often controversial, invariably pro-patient as opposed to pro-therapist, and the newly regulated profession has to focus inwardly for an extended period while those extraneous are free to decide their own future unencumbered by bureaucratic red tape. 

Internationally regulation is vested with decreasing credibility as a result of the banking crisis and ongoing controversies within healthcare in Ireland especially, have further reduced the public’s confidence.  It is understandable that some are trepidatious about leaping into bed with a sector that brought us Organ Retention, Hepatitis from blood transfusion, Thalidomide, Caesarean Hysterectomies, Lea’s Cross Nursing Home, trolleys in A & E corridors and Harold Shipman.  And that’s just the beginning!  As someone recently said, every family has their own horror story.  Prescription drugs are now the fifth biggest killer so maintaining clear water between that and our own drug-free approach offers a healthy alternative to the public.  As it stands, Physical Therapy is a standalone profession in Ireland.  The future of Physical Therapy will be decided by Physical T.  They may decide to seek regulation or not, but there’s no precedent of having regulation imposed on a profession.  Good reason too: it wouldn’t work, and as a race the Irish especially dislike outside interference.  Rules and regulations only work when we agree to abide by them.  There’s no precedent either for one established profession appropriating the title of another established profession.  So when we hear talk of that, we are hearing only rumour and speculation and there’s little new in any of it.

 So what happens when you take a Physical Therapy qualification abroad?

Well, as an educator, what we don’t want is for graduates to pretend they are Physiotherapists or present themselves in a way that leads the public to think that they are qualified in a way that they are not.  We offer places on our course only to those we believe subscribe to the patient-centred, hands-on, holistic approach which are the bedrock values of the course we established.  It might be that these core values are represented in other cultures by professions with names other than Physical Therapy.  The paradox of things new is that they fit poorly within existing structures.  The creative principles of their origin means no badge exists to accurately describe them.  Innovators plough a lonely furrow but the first Physical Therapists have been joined by many and now thousands of consumers find it works for them where other approaches have failed. 

For travelling Physical Therapists, their academic qualification and academic recognition remain intact.  The approach may be new in another country, but it is based on established scientific principles and evidence-based practice.  And if it doesn’t perfectly match anything that already exists – we think that will be the strength of it as opposed to its weakness.  So the self-esteem of a PT shouldn’t hang on a half-truth posted to an internet chat room.  And people who are perfectly entitled to be passionate about their contrasting approach shouldn’t undermine our commitment or belief in ours.  You see, to those that are truly committed to Physical Therapy, ‘fitting in’ becomes secondary.  And as we become more successful we threaten established professions in new ways.  It is reasonable and predictable that those competing react to this.  An ultimate outcome is that competitors, once fiercely opposed, grow to resemble each other and as in Orwell’s Animal Farm, it becomes impossible to tell one group from the other.  Lots of differences exist with physiotherapy; one part of mainstream healthcare, with employment opportunities within the public sector, focused on treating conditions seen within the hospital system and utilizing electrical modalities.  And no-one is saying it is an inferior approach.  But we know our patients like having an alternative available, like the patient-centeredness of what we do, value the time and attention of the hands-on approach and find benefit from undergoing a more relaxed and holistic assessment. 

Vive la differénce. 

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Official Launch

Last updated: March 11, 2011

John O’Sullivan

Tomorrow’s a big day for Priory Clinic Kimmage!  The Lord Mayor of Dublin represented by Councillor Ruairí McGinley will officially launch the venue at 1.00 pm.  Events start a little earlier; from 10.00 am Alicia, Sarah and Stephanie will be on hand offering a free 15-minute neck/shoulder treatment or consultation.  No appointment is necessary so all are invited to pop in for expert advice on any niggles they might have.  Our Osteopath, Athletic Trainer and Therapist and Sports Rehab Therapist will be joined by a local Chiropodist and Gait Analyst, A Personal Trainer and a Nutritionist.  On hand too will be Kimmage Broker John Weber who can help you choose which of the 200+ health insurance policies available would work for you.  We are presenting the day as mini health fair, parading local expertise and hope that residents will come along and become familiar with the professionals providing Healthcare in their local area. 

A local Charity – The Friends of St. Lukes - also win out with a donation from every appointment made on the day going to the charity.  Each person will be entered for one of three draws for a Gift of Health treatment voucher from ourselves.  They can also book future treatments at a special discount.  So drop in if you are in the area – meet the Team and have a coffee and nibble on us.

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National Physical Therapy Conference

Last updated: March 6, 2013

John O’Sullivan

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.

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Massage and Physical Therapy

Last updated: October 19, 2010

John O’Sullivan

A current radio advertisement suggests sight as the most important of the senses.  I don’t know if I could agree with that; I have always believed that Touch was as at least as important.  Touch is certainly an important component of massage and likewise of physical therapy. Here’s a recent report from The New York Times on massage and the biological effects of specific hands-on techniques.

Massage Benefits Are More Than Skin Deep

Does a good massage do more than just relax your muscles? To find out, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles recruited 53 healthy adults and randomly assigned 29 of them to a 45-minute session of deep-tissue Swedish massage and the other 24 to a session of light massage.

All of the subjects were fitted with intravenous catheters so blood samples could be taken immediately before the massage and up to an hour afterward.

To their surprise, the researchers, sponsored by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health, found that a single session of massage caused biological changes.

Volunteers who received Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol in blood and saliva, and in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. They also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system.

Volunteers who had the light massage experienced greater increases in oxytocin, a hormone associated with contentment, than the Swedish massage group, and bigger decreases in adrenal corticotropin hormone, which stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol.

The study was published online in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

The lead author, Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, chairman of psychiatryand behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai, said the findings were “very, very intriguing and very, very exciting — and I’m a skeptic.”

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Lying Down With Stars

Last updated: October 11, 2010

John O’Sullivan

We sent two treatment tables away last week to a film set in Cabinteely House where they are to have a ‘major’ role in a new movie.  We don’t want to ruin it for you by saying too much at this stage but they are apparently pretty central to a scene.

It won’t be our first brush with celebrity of course – we have had many stars of the stage and screen in the Clinic down the years.  Unlike the somewhat notorious Priory Clinic in the UK (which incidentally called itself after us) we tend not to be mentioned as often when the celebs get in trouble.

The exterior of our Priory Clinic in Stillorgan has featured a number of times on Fair City and we have also had scenes from RTE’s Bull Island shot in our treatment rooms.  Over the years other treatment tables have also left us to host some of the Welsh International Rugby team, the Italian International Rugby Team as well as an extended sojourn in Croke Park for the care of the Australian International Rules Team. 

So, next time you rest your world-weary back here it might feel better to know you are in good company.  Oh – and the tables are already returned, thanks for asking.  We might be imagining it but they looked a bit bronzed...

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Launching Success.

Last updated: April 12, 2011

John O’Sullivan

Congratulations to Stephanie and the Kimmage Team on the success of their recent Launch. 

The day brought together health professionals from the local area so that people could drop in to one location at 4 Shelton Drive without an appointment and meet the practitioners.  The list (of practitioners) included our resident Sports Rehabilitator, Osteopath, Athletic Trainer and Therapist, as well as a Chiropodist, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and of course the all-important Health Insurance Adviser.  The Priory Clinic saw a steady flow of visitors through the day all expressing gratitude for the opportunity to become acquainted with the services that are available locally. 

We were proud too to welcome the Lord Mayor of Dublin, represented by Councillor Ruarí McGinley and thank him most sincerely for donating his day to support local enterprise.  Everyone involved is looking forward to hosting another similar day in the next few months.  It is always nice to meet neighbours and to be familiar with services available locally so that we know where to go if an urgent need arises.

First up though, will be the Calcutta Run, on Saturday 14th of May where the intrepid Kimmage Team will be providing pre-and post-event Sports Massage to runners and walkers for this major charity event.  More details later.

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Important Report on Physical Therapy

Last updated: March 14, 2011

Discussions about the regulation of health professions in Ireland sometimes appear to founder from a lack of accurate information, especially relating to Physical Therapy.

A soon-to-be-launched Report, researched and presented by Dr. Norah Nelson sets the historical record straight, at least with regard to facts relating to the birth and growth of our College and profession as we Physical Therapists know it.  As a well-researched and detailed study it is likely to add significantly to the public understanding of the profession in Ireland, where it came from and how and why it was designed to differ from other established professions.  It may also give a clear idea of how the founders intended the profession to develop and the values that became the bed rock principles that guide it. 

We live as the Chinese say, in interesting times and it may be that if or when Regulation arrives it will be different to what those who championed it would have envisaged.  For all that, we believe that those best placed to influence the development of Physical Therapy in Ireland are those within it. Ultimately it may be that the title Physical Therapy is found not to belong to any one group or to be within the gift of any one organisation – State or otherwise.

We would like as many people as possible to read this report which has been written to inform discussion and excite response.  That is why we are posting here so you can send us a comment if you have an opinion you’d like to share.  It is a serious document perhaps, but then Physical Therapy has made a profound difference since it all began here, more than two decades ago.  We look forward to hearing your thoughts and to meeting you at a Launch soon.  Read the full Report here.

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First, Among Equals

Last updated: February 2, 2012

John O’Sullivan

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. 

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Cracked or Broken?

Last updated: December 1, 2010

John O’Sullivan

Monday’s radio report that UK news was saying Brian O’Driscoll had “either a fractured or broken jaw, depending on who you’d believe” got me thinking. 

So, always one to try and be sure of my facts, I researched – the internet.  I read here that a fracture was a condition where the bone “is broke”.  The thought occurred that “broke” was unlikely to be a term normally associated with BOD even if it would fit neatly that our talismanic rugby player shares the financial state of our economy.  Neat – but unlikely. 

Further down the article it says, well sort of says, implies maybe, that a “break” is different to a “crack” and that “fracture” is the term used by medical people that would cover both conditions.  That, I suppose, is as distinct to craic, which would be a different beast altogether. 

Dorland’s Pocket Medical Dictionary – which is anything but pocket-sized - describes many different types of fracture which seem to include types that would not usually imply one area of bone being separated from another.  A fissure fracture for example, seems to include an area of cracked bone as does a greenstick fracture and an incomplete fracture. 

It seems to me that a crack and a fracture are really one and the same thing, though I’d agree that if he suffered a crack he might just be fit for the Clermont game whereas a fracture could possibly keep him out longer.  

Next week we can look at whether cryotherapy and oxygen have a role to play in speeding the healing process and exactly when to deploy Emu oil.  These are the things that the surgeons never tell you.  Stay tuned.

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Born To Perform

Last updated: November 23, 2011

John O’Sullivan

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. 

Leave a comment Tags: Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy, Sports, Sports Clinic, Sports Rehab

Bagging a Bad Back

Last updated: November 4, 2010

John O’Sullivan

I still have the doctor’s style bag I used in secondary school.  Brown leather it was and built to last.  She carried the full load too – probably the heaviest bag in the college and so, a source of some pride.  Of course there was no need to bring all my books all the time –turns out I may have been better to try and memorise the contents.  But if I was warned it was lost on me.  I can only guess that my last 35 or so years of back pain is linked to an overweight bag.  One thing is for sure; I’ll hand-me-down the bag with a health warning.  And of course throw out some of the books.

These days we tell our school-goers to use only backpacks and carry as little as practical. Wide cushioned straps worn over both shoulders spread the load evenly.  Compartments distribute weight better and a fastened waist belt keeps the load close and stable, reducing stress.  Carry the heaviest books nearest the spine and if the pack is cushioned it will protect the back from protruding rulers or sharp pencils. 

We also tell shoppers to try and distribute the load into two shopping bags; half the load in each hand works much better.  And if you are stuck with a briefcase, try and swap hands and sides frequently; it really can make a difference.  Of course the suitcase with the wheels is a life-saver.  Airlines may have helped us by making us more aware of carrying unnecessary weight.

Ironic isn’t it, that a Doctor’s bag can potentially do a lot of damage?  I don’t know how well mine contributed to Leaving Certificate points, but it may well have set me up for a career in Physical Therapy and I learned some valuables lessons from it – albeit in a more painful way than I would have wished at the time.

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A Lot Done - Some People Not Done Yet

Last updated: November 24, 2010

John O’Sullivan

Lots of talk and print lately about the need for a Bad Bank and how the nation might benefit from it.  It seems all bankers, surely undeservedly, have got something of a bad name and as such no specific one is willing to step forward in a crisis.

Well, perhaps the time has come for yours truly to take up the challenge to head up a bad bank – and all for the common good of course. 

I would point to a record of involvement for a long number of years in the healthcare area.  This might be as good a preparation as any for employment within the financial sector. Not that such experience enhances any specific banking skills; indeed quite the contrary.  But my employers might see this as a feature in that I would be incapable of running a good bank – particularly under prevailing economic conditions.

No indeed.  My forte could be in issuing bad loans, identifying the risks good banks would never touch and paying over-the-top interest rates.  Surely this kind of industry would serve as a salutary lesson to all good banks as activities they would do well to avoid.  Deposits would be safe in that we could stay closed all hours.  From a security point of view, it would be low risk.  A closed bank would not attract the bad people.  We might also look at offering opportunities to unskilled people unable to gain employment elsewhere and thus cement a reputation. 

 On the down side, I can think of one skill that might help and that would be in area of ‘massaging’ the books.  I see my culinary counterparts might offer ‘cooking’ facilities to trump mine.

All in all then, it may be better to commit to the Clinic for the moment.

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2nd Opinion

Last updated: August 18, 2010

John O’Sullivan

So this is the blog.  Not that we are really into blogging or anything – in fact none of us have before. 

We’ve decided to call it 2nd Opinion because we thought Priory was a good place to come if you wanted a second opinion.  And because there will be more than one contributor, you should prepare for more than one point of view.

For the moment though we are re-launching our website.  It’s been around a long time and we thought we should brighten it up.  We are building a Wiki-style library on the site if people want to read up on how we see their problems.  We are also posting stretches that we will be suggesting for your rehabilitation. 

We are expecting some glitches too so you might have to bare (!) with us.

We are going to spruce up the Clinic itself and treatment rooms – gradually – in the next few weeks.  We don’t want to disturb things too much because they are pretty busy.  A few new therapists are joining us which is very exciting.  We are upgrading the software in the practise.  And PCK – Priory Clinic, Kimmage - is getting really busy.  Our family is bigger than ever.

We will be hoping to write here mostly about Clinic-y things.  But we want to try things out for you too and share experiences.  So the opinions will be personal but maybe not necessarily shared by the Clinic.  We would like to hear from you too, so send us some feedback.

One thing we have wanted to say for a while is about health history.  What we would like to see is that – with your agreement, your health details would always be available to your chosen health adviser.  Electronically, or digitally.  So, your GP could see your consultant’s notes and we could add ours to it.  That way everyone has had access to the most up-to-date information and tests when they meet you. It’d save your trying to recall dates and procedures you might be trying to forget, or the names of medicines you find hard to remember.  Of course you would only allow access to those you trust.  Nothing too original; just an idea – that might make a difference.

Leave a comment Tags: Physical Therapy


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