Estelle LeClair, MSPT, PRC
Estelle completed her Master’s degree in Physical Therapy at Springfield College in Springfield, MA where she worked with college athletes. She founded LeClair Therapy, Inc in 1997 and joined as co-owner Essex Physical Therapy in 2001. She has studied Craniosacral Techniques with the Upledger Institute and has developed a strong background in sports medicine and overuse injuries with an emphasis in manual physical therapy. Her practice specializes in the non-surgical treatment of back, neck, hip, knee, and headache pain, as well as post surgical shoulder rehabilitation. Her 16 years of clinical practice in physical therapy lead her in 2007 to the designation of Postural Restoration Certified (PRC). Her passion for Postural Restoration science and patient interventions has lead to a reputation for successful clinical outcomes and the opportunity to provide in-services to physicians, physical therapists, coaches and athletes in the implementation of Postural Restoration in their practice. Estelle is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. She works with student athletes in the Essex School District and has particular interest working with soccer, hockey, golf, and baseball players, as well as ballet dancers. Estelle lives in Essex with her husband and her three sons. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, walking with her dog, playing women’s and co-ed soccer, skiing, snowshoeing, golfing, and traveling.
Give us a brief history of your background and how you became interested in the Postural Restoration Institute?
I began out-patient practice in 1997 and had started to see some postural patterns in the objective findings upon completing initial evaluations with my patients. PRI was introduced to me by one of my current coworkers who had purchased a copy of one of the CD’s and printed the exercises. I began to use the exercises (prior to attending any of the courses) with a patient who had been to therapy with several other PT’s and had not had success. He was scheduled for a lumbar fusion and within two month of starting PRI based exercises focusing on getting him to achieve left AFIR he cancelled his back surgery. I was hooked!
Are there other areas of PT that you specialize in besides Postural Restoration?
My best friend from PT school, Gina Kozimor, and I have attended a course together every year to allow us to spend time together but also to learn new PT techniques. She introduced me to Craniosacral Therapy techniques with the Upledger Institute. For the past 2 ½ years Gina has been attending PRI classes with me!
You’ve attended several PRI courses. Can you tell us about your first course and your initial impression of the material?
I took Myokinematic Restoration in May 2003 and then Postural Respiration in August 2003. Initially, I was a bit of a non-believer when opening day Ron said something like, “we will help you learn how to treat shoulder tendonitis by repositioning a pelvis”. Still to this day I hear the words ischiochondylar adductor over and over as Ron had one of the participants repeat it throughout the course. It was a great way to emphasize the importance of this muscle to achieve left AF IR. At the time, I had been struggling for 18 months with bicep tendonitis. Ron gave me two exercises to do while I was attending the course and by the second day I was amazed at how much better my shoulder felt. Having had my own personal experience with the success of PRI techniques made me a believer very quickly! I found that after the first course about 80-85% of my patients were getting better with what I had learned at the first conference. That is when I signed up for Postural Respiration.
In 2007, you earned the designation of Postural Restoration Certification through the Postural Restoration Institute. What made you decide to go through this process?
When I attended the Advanced Integration course I found myself asking so many questions during the break time. Mike Cantrell, MPT, PRC happened to be sitting nearby and he was the therapist that suggested I look into certification. Ron said it would be a great learning experience for me and it truly was! The preparation for the certification was by far one of the best learning experiences I could have ever had. I just knew that this treatment approach had helped me to assist so many other people through my practice and I wanted to learn as much as possible to help my patients get the best care I could provide.
Was PRI something you were easily able to incorporate into your clinical skills?
Most definitely! We use some piece of PRI with every patient in our practice. We love the do’s and don’ts postural handout and give it out upon initial evaluation. We have the file system of all the exercises which is incredibly helpful and each therapist has a binder of the exercise snippets from the CD’s. At least half of our staff in services are PRI review sessions. I love the fact that through the use of PRI exercises my patients are learning how to take care of themselves and to better manage their bodies. We send everyone home with a “toolbox” of exercises to manage not just what they are currently struggling with, but we try to integrate an exercise that might be great for their current problem as well as help with the old shoulder instability issue they have that isn’t currently problematic.
Since becoming certified, you have become interested in PRI and aquatics. Can you tell us a little bit about your future plans with this?
I have the opportunity to co-treat with patients in the pool environment as my business associate Veronica Paquette has a pool facility just adjacent to our land office. Veronica is a certified aquatic therapist and we have begun working together to use the aquatic medium with PRI based concepts in mind. It is my goal to bring the Prism pool to our new facility in the Fall 2010 or Spring 2011.
Any other big projects you plan on working on in 2009?
In 2009, we began to work with Dr. Coffin on PRI orthotics for our clients and have had tremendous success with them. Several of our clients have happy feet thanks to Dr. Coffins work. We thank him very much for working with us.
We are very excited to announce we celebrated our ground breaking ceremony yesterday on a new building for a second location in Essex, VT. Our new 4000 sq ft land facility is scheduled to open in March of 2010. Our future plan includes a 2000 sq ft aquatic facility at this location to house the Prism pool. It is very exciting to bring to our community such a great facility for rehabilitation. I hope to become a New England host site for PRI conferences in the near future.