A new perspective of physical therapy

Hello Joint Supporters!

I am currently in Warner Robins, Georgia taking a continuing education class called Postural Restoration (PRI).  This is my 3rd PRI course.  As with the other two courses, these classes leave me mind blown, the information is very heavily layered, and challenges your knowledge and application of anatomy and biomechanics.  However, this class has been even more profound.  See, this course is being instructed by the ‘Big Kahuna’ himself; the genius behind the concepts of Postural Restoration, Mr. Ron Hruska.  This man’s intelligence of the human body is almost incomprehensible; his ability to take into multiple facets of movement including muscle, bone, our nervous system, proprioception, and biomechanics is astounding.  The new concepts I learned today have left me feeling like the knowledge I do have about physical therapy and biomechanics is just a drop in a very large bucket of information called the human body. But something happened to me today that gave me an extremely deep appreciation for our nervous system and the vital role it plays in movement.

During the class today, Ron kept emphasizing the importance of our nervous system and how we establish patterns based on reflexes and how we move.  He explained that these patterns affect how we taste, see, hear, feel, and move.  We talked about the importance of our tongue, teeth, and cranium movement and how it relates to neck/back pain, hip pain, knee pain, GI issues, headaches, fibromyalgia, and even sleep apnea! These concepts are REALLY far from material I learned in PT school (which is why continuing education is so important!)  I sat there thinking to myself, ‘I am a PT, I didn’t get a degree to treat sleep apnea, or vision issues, or GI problems.  This is sooo far out of my scope!’  I really did not know how to accept this information, because it went so far deeper than what I felt I could fathom.  Well…let me tell you what happened later on in the class.

Ron made us all stand up and do an exercise.  We had to stand with our right foot in front of our left and our left arm out in front of us.  Our weight was on our left foot and we had our teeth clenched on the left side.   Then he had use do a series of simple slow head movements and eye gazing.  During what looked like a super simple exercise, I struggled to maintain to my balance; everyone else was doing pretty good with it, but I was failing to stabilize myself.  We we finished the exercise, I immediately had blurriness in my right eye and instant headache.  I felt somewhat disoriented, loose and unstable.  I thought, this is crazy, how did this cause instant symptoms!  I started walking, and I was immediately aware of left heel strike the floor as I walked.  My neck mobility was better; I had a click in my neck (I’ve had it on and off for a while) that was gone.  My right arm could move so much more freely, and my feet just felt heavier on the floor.  It was the craziest experience!  All from a 2 minute exercise?  The headache lasted for over a 1/2 hour, the blurriness about 15 minutes.

I had experienced the power of manipulating the proprioception/nervous system, and my body struggled to handle the change.  You see, I had been favoring my right side for so long, that when I was placed on the left, my body was unable to stabilize itself.  The ‘exercise’ forced my nervous system to adapt to the left side using my weight, vision and muscles to do so.  This reset my body and allowed it to move to both the right and left, instead of just the right like it had been.  I was astonished.

This experience has challenged me to learn the concepts.  There is so much I need to learn about all these systems and how they work together that I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.  But, I truly feel like this is why some of my patients don’t get better with conventional PT.  This is why my patients return a year later with the same pain.  This is why my patients end up having to have surgery, and still have problems afterwards.  This is why my patients have multiple problems like right shoulder pain and left hip pain and fibromyalgia.  It’s because I failed to look at the bigger picture.  I failed to look deeper in the why.

I learned the power of integrating systems today.  I learned how our vision, proprioception, nervous system, muscles, reflexes, bones, and senses work together to create change.  And now that I’ve had a taste, I want to learn it all.  I want to be a better clinician for my patients.  I want to be that person that can help those who everyone else has failed in their trials.  I want to be able to apply that deep understanding of our body and solve the problems no one else can solve.  I want to give those people who have lost hope a new purpose.  And I think I found the path to do so.

~ Courtney



Learn more about the Postural Restoration Institute.





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