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

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