As one of the first faculty members for the Postural Restoration Institute®, share with us what initially sparked your interest in the science and what continues to interest you today in 2013.
Because I’ve been associated with Ron and the Institute for so long, most people associated with PRI know my story, or at least some folk tale version of my story, and unfortunately, they also know all my good jokes. In fact, one of my favorites is to talk about how the “featured interview” showcases someone who plays an important role in PRI and that I’ve personally never been selected, so we all know how the selection committee for the “featured interview” feels about me. But now that I am being interviewed, I can no longer use that joke.
I was introduced to PRI shortly after I graduated from PT school on invitation from a physician friend of mine who knew that I had quit PT and started an environmental engineering consulting firm with my brother. I wanted to do spine rehab when I went into PT school and after my coursework and spending as much time as I could as a student intern in various spine rehab centers, I decided that I didn’t want to do what they were doing and I quit.
My first clinical exposure to the science came when I went with Ron to a large ortho and neuro spine surgeon group and provided treatment interventions to a full day’s worth of failed back and failed neck patients. He had immediate success with patients who had altogether given up hope on a pain-free life and I frankly had never seen anything like it. When I first met him and had the chance to talk to him, it was clear that Ron was a good person and someone anyone would like to get to know better. But when I saw him work his magic on a patient population that I didn’t think PT could help very much, I was “hooked”.
What continues to interest me today? It’s the depth and breadth and quality and integrated nature of the concepts that keeps me coming back. I remember countless conversations with my first PRI collaborator and good friend, Raulan Young, MPT, PRC. We saw the power and potential and universal application of the PRI science in those early days before we had our current line-up of courses and certification programs in place. I’m grateful to Raulan for all we learned together in those early days as we worked to get our head around this challenging science and take our understanding and write it down so we could try to share it with others. I also appreciate his continued inquiries to Ron and Janie about establishing some kind of PRI certification to recognize clinicians with proficiency in PRI, leading to the development of the PRC and the first certification class of 2004.
I’d also like to thank the many like-minded people I have been blessed to know in my career who have helped make me better at what I do. You have challenged me, taught me, guided me and blessed me with great PRI experiences during the course of my career. I can’t thank all of you by name, but you have been my patients, my student interns, my co-workers, fellow PRI faculty members, course attendees, consultants and friends. Grand rounds, study groups, brainstorming sessions, staff in-services, late night PRI discussions over the pool table at my house, missing sleep in a motel room to talk PRI, long car rides, plane trips, and all those phone calls, e-mails, text messages and conference calls make for one heck of a post graduate educational experience. What would we do with ourselves if we didn’t have PRI to talk about?
Share with us a couple of your favorite teaching moments since joining the PRI Faculty.
I started teaching Protonics courses within my first year as a practicing clinician and definitely had to employ the “fake it until you make it” mantra. It was intimidating as a new grad to stand in front of groups of very experienced clinicians who felt very challenged by these new concepts. We took a lot of arrows in our backs in those early years. But I felt confident in my message and for the first time I really believed what I was saying, even though I didn’t quite know all the details of the truths I was trying to share. I knew what I knew and I knew it was true. They would skeptically ask me how long I have been doing “this”, and I would secretly add up my 3 years of PT school and respond “3 and ½ years”.
For those who know you well, they know that deep down you are a business and marketing guy. What would be your top 3 recommendations to those who would like to use Postural Restoration® to help market their practice?
1) Remember that even though PRI may seem new or different, it is not on trial. Treatment approaches that do not yield positive successful treatment outcomes are on trial. Keep in mind that your referral sources have problem patients that they do not know what to do with. They need biomechanical, neurological and respiratory experts like you.
2) Be careful asking potential referral sources for only the most challenging, difficult and pathologic patients they have. This could backfire on you. You may need to start with a couple of tough patients like this to begin with, but look for the first opportunity to ask, “if we’re this good at problem patients, wouldn’t we be that much better with all the rest of your less complex patients”. Think efficiency and cost effectiveness.
3) Demonstrate, Demonstrate, Demonstrate. You need to show skeptical referral sources that you’ve got the goods. Put their nursing or admin staff on the treatment table, or better yet, put their chronic pain husband or wife on the table and show them what PRI can do. If you make a physician’s clinic stress and home stress go down by providing relief to someone they really care about, you have delivered the goods and you are building a valuable relationship.
Over the past year, you have made the transition from outpatient PT to a Home Health Clinician. How have you been able to integrate Postural Restoration® into the treatment of your patients in the home or skilled nursing facility?
PRI has home integration written all over it. Home is where people live their lives and PRI provides treatment to balance their breathing, balance their muscle tone, balance their movement patterns and balance their life. I would have never thought I could have so much fun applying PRI principles in such a simple environment as the home, but I really have.
I’ve treated world class athletes from just about every sport, industrial athletes from just about every walk of life, but my favorite athlete is the geriatric retired athlete in the home or community setting. There’s no other population more kind, more patient, more grateful and all around more fun than these folks. And how cool is it that I evaluate and treat these retired athletes at 60, 70, or 80 the same way I evaluate and treat professional athletes at 19, 21 or 24? This would not be possible without PRI and my understanding of the human body and how it needs to function at any age.
You are currently in the process of developing the first PRI Affiliate Course “PRI Integration for the Home Health Clinician” which you will teach for the first time in Oregon in August. What will be some of the highlights of this course? What will be some of the similarities and differences from the PRI Introductory courses?
The PRI Affiliate Course offerings are unique because of the audiences they target. They are designed not only for people who have learned about and want to learn more about PRI, but also for those who may have never heard of us and only want to know about our science as it relates to their specific area of interest. There are no prerequisites for these courses and people may choose to just take this one course and not go on to take any of our PRI introductory or PRI advanced courses. For that reason, they need a stand-alone clinically relevant course that is chalked full of ideas for clinical success in their specific area of interest, in this case the home.
One of the differences that I’ve found in moving from outpatient to home health is that function is all that really matters. Of course function matters in outpatient and may have been a part of our outpatient goals, but decreasing pain and restoring movement seemed to be at the top of our list. If you decrease pain and restore movement in home health and do nothing else, its not going to get paid for. You cannot just decrease pain if you don’t demonstrate objective progress in specific functional areas like gait, transfers, bed mobility and balance. I know I learned that in school, but it was never really enforced for me in three previous outpatient settings until I made the move to home health. And because home health therapists practice this way, the entire course is built around making functional progress in each of these 4 areas.
We’re excited about the Affiliate Course program and look forward to collaborating with many of you in the future in a wide variety of specialization areas. I appreciate the opportunity to be the “featured interview”. I hope it wasn’t a let-down for anyone.