Before I got into PT school, my girlfriend started to lose control of her body. She would suddenly become unresponsive (only able to blink) and sometimes start to shake. No one could figure out what was going on and she was bounced around from specialist to specialist with no real answers. Once I was in PT school I was trying to help her with a headache during one of these episodes and mobilized C3 anteriorly, she took a deep breath and was able to get up and walk around! We were excited and confused but it continued to help every time she was having one of her episodes. This manual technique helped us feel like we had a little bit of control over this issue that dominated our lives. The tedious and depressing process of going from specialist to specialist was slightly brightened by this newfound sense of control and direction, but sadly, no one could make sense of this new discovery and we felt only slightly unstuck.
Before graduation I met a man who many considered to be “alternative”. He was a PT who practiced using techniques I had never heard of: brain wave biofeedback, the Feldenkrais Method, acupressure, craniosacral therapy and other Osteopathic techniques. We talked with him and showed him what we were doing to help her during her episodes (of which she was in the middle of during the evaluation) and he said, “If everything her body tells me is right this will wake her up.” He pulls her right leg and she takes a deep breath and wakes up again!
I had to know more! I scheduled a class to learn acupressure, which led to craniosacral therapy and the Feldenkrais method, which led to dry needling. All of the pieces of the puzzle seem to have fallen into place to create a practice treating those who struggle to find answers in our health care system. These days I’m treating a lot of chronic pain, head injuries, athletes, Multiple Sclerosis, post-stroke and even some people are even referred from their mental health providers due to the calming effect and clarity of mind that comes along with treatments. I emphasize finding calm prior to coordinating the neuromuscular system prior to strength/flexibility/postural training of traditional PT. By utilizing this method and principles of neuroplasticity my clients are able to form new, more positive pattern and live the life they once thought to be unattainable!
The results speak for themselves. Clients report improvements in: movement, pain, athletic performance, dizziness, mental clarity, anxiety, depression, and a general sense of well-being. If any of these sound like something you might be looking for, give me a call and we will see what we can do!
Grand Rapids Performance Center is a rehabilitation clinic offering PT/OT and athletic performance enhancement training. GRPC specializes in approaching chronic pain, athletic performance, orthopedic dysfunction and movement dysfunction from a neurologic perspective. Through emphasizing neural calming prior to coordination training prior to traditional PT interventions GRPC boasts substantial improvements in pain and function in people who have often given up hope on living the life they once knew. GRPC values a holistic approach and coordinates with mental health practitioners, nutritionists, physicians, acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc. to address all areas of well-being.
After a car accident, all bets are off. Some people walk away with no lasting issues, others are not so lucky. One such patient, let’s call her Jennifer, needed a fusion of L5/S1 due to spondylolisthesis following her car accident. After the surgery her back felt a little better but her leg, especially the foot, felt much worse. After her first round(s) of physical therapy and referral to a pain specialist she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and sent to our office.
To put it mildly, CRPS is a difficult condition to treat. The general medical consensus is that people with CRPS either can get somewhat better but they have a hard road ahead of them or they may just never get better. More recently therapists and physicians have begun utilizing modalities intended to re-map the brain associated with the painful region of the body, imagined movements and mirror therapy to decrease and sometimes eliminate the pain associated with CRPS. Alone, this was moderately helpful for our patient so we added integrative dry needling and indirect manual therapy to the pain science education and graded motor imagery.
We began with needling of homeostatic points of the head, neck and upper extremities in combination with therapeutic neuroscience education and manually assisted easing of the spine. Initially this patient didn’t notice much change in her foot pain but as time went on we were able to utilize homeostatic points in her unaffected lower extremity and then a few visits later we were able to add needles into the homeostatic points of the affected lower extremity. Throughout this time the patient began reporting an increased frequency of “good foot days” and even asking if she could get more needles into her foot!
After about 15 treatments in total the patient has become pain free in her foot but began noticing a prominent SI joint pain which we have turned our attention to and are continuing to use dry needling along with spinal coordination and postural awareness training with emphasis on ease of movement to help this patient return to her life without pain!