Mike graduated from the University of Georgia in 1981 with a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. After a period in the U.S. Army, he completed his Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Mike’s orthopedic skills continued to advance as he began practicing at the University of Georgia as the sole physical therapist for a population of 30,000 students. In 1992, he and his wife Tassie opened their private practice where Postural Restoration techniques are carried out with patients presenting a variety of diagnoses and often traveling from surrounding states. Mike’s reputation for successful clinical outcomes and his background in nutrition, sports medicine and Postural Restoration has led to consultation and speaking opportunities within his local community and across the country.
Mike, you have many hats, Postural Restoration Certified therapist, PRI course instructor, business owner and practicing clinician. Tell us how you’ve managed to successfully integrate each of these roles?
I feel like one of those dancing cartoon couples whose heads and shoulders are moving beautifully but their legs are going crazy! Juggling multiple hats takes a great deal of time, perspiration and perseverance. At the end of the day I’m not too pretty to look at and my kids are quick to point that out! The main reason for any success is not due to my accomplishments but more likely due to the talented people with whom I’ve surrounded myself. I couldn’t possibly do what I do without the friends that I have who have afforded me the time to pursue these strong interests. Chief among those friends is my wife Tassie who is also a Physical Therapist and she is really the main person who makes things work in my world.
The “hats” you’ve mentioned are basically on “auto-integrate”. What I mean is that our practice really took-off when we began to gain more understanding of PRI principles. By applying these fantastic tools to my patient care I have accidentally become a better clinician and that increased the reputation of our practice. I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to talk about the PRI subject so I just had to become an instructor and that helped me gain more understanding of the subject. The more I learn about Postural Restoration the more people I can help and the more the clinic grows! The integration became automatic. The only problem is: the more I learn, the more I realize just how much I don’t know! I guess I better go and learn some more.
Do you have any advice for therapists considering private practice?
Do it. Don’t hesitate. Just do it. Either work for one or open your own but work in the private practice setting. It is the best way to advance our profession to the status it should have. All therapists should be being trained to open private practices. The private sector is the backbone of the economy and where innovation occurs. If all therapists were in private practices then we would have better control of our future, our funding and our destinies. PRI is living proof of that and so is my clinic. I do things the way I want to do them and it bodes well with the patient population. I can serve better when I am holding the reins.
All of the therapists at the Cantrell Center have been trained in Postural Restoration. How do you manage to keep a comprehensive treatment approach? Do you schedule regular clinical training or provide other avenues for clinical advancement?
We have regular clinical meetings on a weekly basis during which time we do in-services and staff training. We also spend a great deal of that time on our most complicated subject…PRI. It demands the most attention and our clinicians want the most info on that subject. We also make sure that our clinicians get training in other areas since, of course, we see whatever comes in the door. We have a certified hand therapist, we have a big pediatric caseload, we have an aquatics program in an Olympic-sized pool, we have neuro patients, spinal cords, head injuries and lots more. We have to provide a variety of training and we are always sending therapists to different courses around the country. We also spend time discussing email questions. I really enjoy email questions from other clinicians around the country and those questions really cause me to pause and think.
In 2006, you completed the process of Postural Restoration Certification. Do you have any advice to other therapists who are considering Certification?
First of all I wish I would have done it in 2004. I would’ve met James Anderson sooner! He and I kept missing each other at PRI classes and we really needed to meet.
My advice to any therapist is to hurry-up and get it done. Get the pre-requisites out of the way and get your time under your belt and get busy. If I had to choose between DPT, or Orthopedic Certification or Postural Restoration Certification it would be a hands-down, no brainer, Postural Restoration choice.
What PRI non-manual techniques do you find yourself using most often?
If I had to choose one I would say the Active Left Sidelying Ischial Femoral Ligamentous Stretch. I use it because it compels the patient to get that femoral head into that left acetabulum. Most of the time the main reason for sluggish progress is that patients are going through an exercise progression while the femoral head is “dancing” outside the hip. What good is that? Get ‘em in that hip I say! If the patient is not “in” that Left hip then they can’t possibly progress and they won’t be in that hip unless they find and feel glute medius and IC adductor working together.
On brachial chain activities I love it when a patient can execute a Long-Seated Press-Down with Abdominals. Very challenging exercise but if the patient can do it correctly, the return is huge. The real issue here is that you must carefully monitor for absolutely correct form or else the effort will be wasted and no progress made. Some patients however simply can’t do the activity because it is too hard or they are not ready. If that is the case then I simply choose an easier activity that places emphasis on thoracic-scapular muscle activation. But really, that’s old news. I mean how long has Ron been saying that?
If you were to attend a non-PRI continuing education course, what would it be?
Any courses I can take that help me understand more about the TMCC, vision and pelvic floor are for me. Obviously some of those are offered via PRI but I am very interested in courses that cover these subjects that are offered outside of our subculture. I am currently working with some docs in my neck of the woods who specialize in these areas and we are trying to coordinate our efforts to hone our outcomes with patients and simultaneously attend courses offered by our organizations. In other words I want to go to their courses and they want to go to mine! If I were a new grad therapist I would make sure I attended some basic courses like “ when the foot hits the ground…” and definitely take any Steve Krause course on TMJ. Those are fundamental courses that give you a decent basis from which to work. The big problem is that I seem to spend all my time immersed in the PRI world and by the time I finish doing course work with PRI and then teaching, I discover that I’ve been gone a lot from home already! I like to spend a little time at home too. Besides, a goofy hillbilly like me needs to stay home every now and then just to hunt and fish you know!