Therapies & Treatments
While I always try to employ the best tools available, I am primarily a manual therapist, which means I use and blend many hands-on techniques in my evaluation and treatment. These include the tools below:
Joint mobilization and stabilization
Sometimes your joints — where bones meet—may need some help returning to balance after injury, illness, lack of movement or other issues. Hands-on techniques can be used to gently mobilize (move) joints to allow them more freedom. Sometimes, joints need to move less — gentle strengthening exercises may be prescribed to increase their stability.
Finding Comfort, Equilibrium, and Optimal Health
Your body is made of parts that need to stretch and expand and move, as well as parts that are firm and anchor and make up your solid, support structure. Sometimes, the firmer structures (mostly bones) may not be in alignment, or the softer tissues (muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia, blood vessels, nerves) may get stuck, contracted or stretched too much. Your body may be pushed or pulled out of balance, creating pain and disturbance. Though your structures may not touch one another directly, they are all connected in this system, and one part out of place can create imbalance anywhere in your body!
Posture and Movement Evaluation
Trouble with posture and alignment can contribute to pain and difficulty using your body in the best ways. A full postural assessment gathers information about how you are when you are still as well as when you are moving, so we can make a plan to help you move more efficiently, powerfully and with less pain. Photographs and video are often used in the therapeutic process to help you see yourself, so you can fully understand how to take charge and make changes that create lasting effects and relief.
Myofascial and Trigger Point Massage
Fascia is a connective tissue that wraps the body to help support its bones, muscles, organs and other parts of the anatomy, and it is meant to move along with you. When fascia becomes tight, rigid or brittle because of too much or too little movement, injury, or illness, it can result in pain and movement problems.
Trigger points are small groups of muscle fibers that “forget” how to relax, creating what many refer to as “knots”. These trigger points create stiffness, difficulty moving, and pain, which may often travel to more distant body areas, a phenomenon called “referred pain”.
Myofascial Massage and Trigger Point Massage are special hands-on techniques used to soften and relax tight tissues, breaking the pain cycles, and freeing your body to move with more ease. You are often taught how to easily use these techniques on yourself, to make the most of your treatment.
Visceral Manipulation (VM)
Visceral Manipulation is a gentle hands-on technique which helps to discover and treat tension and restrictions in the viscera: organs and the connective tissues that surround them. These areas are often overlooked or neglected when trying to find the root of a problem. Visceral Manipulation was pioneered by Jean-Pierre Barral, a French physiotherapist and osteopath.
The intent of VM is, much like myofascial work, to: discover dysfunction and irregularities through direct touch; balance the stresses upon organs and their ligaments; free adhesions (“stuck” areas), and encourage healthy circulation within and to organs and your body system as a whole. This practice is an important tool used alone or with other therapies, that can help address symptoms of illness and physical dysfunction, such as gastro-intestinal upset, spasm, and pain anywhere in the body.
Strain and Counterstrain (SCS)
Developed by osteopath Lawrence Jones, SCS helps interrupt the pain-producing muscle spasms your body creates to protect you from sudden injury or chronic use problems. By quickly and gently scanning and placing your body briefly (up to 90 seconds) in relaxed positions, the therapist can help your body break the protective pain cycle. Because the reflex is interrupted, you are able to move and function more freely, allowing you to return to regular physical goals and activities. Instruction in performing simple passive positions is often provided, so you know how to support and treat yourself as needed.
Thai Yoga Massage
This practice presents the ancient art of Thai Massage and adapts it to the “Western” body. Performed on a mat, you are fully clothed while the practitioner uses her arms, legs, feet and hands to massage and gently stretch your body along energy lines named “sen”. It is invigorating and relaxing. Thai Yoga Massage may also be used in part during other therapies as a tool to promote rehabilitation.
- See Susan give a Thai Yoga Massage in this photo slideshow.
Many issues may contribute to loss of balance and falls, including your body’s ability to sense and feel itself on the ground and in your environment. This may happen gradually over time from disuse, or suddenly after an illness or accident. A thorough assessment includes screening for changes or trouble with vision; testing of the vestibular and other body-sensing systems; strength, balance, and movement evaluation; and discussion about home and environmental safety, including recommendations for modifications and tools to increase safety. Treatment may include: strength and balance exercises, including dance and other fun activities; training in the use of devices such as Nordic walking poles, canes, walkers, or other devices to help decrease fear and enhance stability; and lots of education about staying independent!
Individual appointments and group classes may be available. Contact me for more information.
Balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation
Dizziness, vertigo (including BPPV, or “benign paroxysmal positional vertigo”), and motion sensitivity interfere with your ability to safely and comfortably move about in your life. A comprehensive screening helps determine the causes, and treatment is provided to help you manage—and often completely resolve—these symptoms so that return to safe movement is possible. Referral from or to a medical provider may be required for complete treatment.
Strength and Flexibility
Do you find it has become difficult to turn your head to see over your shoulder? Is there a growing child in your life who is getting harder to lift? Are you getting more tired, more often, just doing the usual chores? If you want to reach higher, help with the heavy lifting, and enjoy recreational activities without fear of pain or injury, a physical assessment may include strength, flexibility, and endurance testing, so we can make a plan to get you back to your safest, most powerful, most comfortable self!
Three-Dimensional (3D) Scoliosis Rehabilitation: The Schroth Method This is an exercise-based treatment for adolescents and adults with scoliosis and kyphosis. It includes specific evaluation and focused exercises which assist you in building a healthy way of being in and thinking about your body. We are a team! I work closely with you and your specific anatomy, goals and resources, as well as other health care providers as needed. The goals of this treatment are to decrease the asymmetry of your spine, build balanced muscle strength and stability, improve the function of your lungs, enhance the function of a brace if you wear one, and potentially avoid surgery. In turn, this reduces the effects of wear and tear and degeneration as you age, and of damage related to the special stress of living with spinal asymmetry. Exercises are learned through an initial series of appointments several times per week, and a daily home exercise program is developed for you to maintain and manage. This treatment asks you to be committed to practice and dedicated to your care. For adolescents, it is especially important as your spine and other bones are still forming to learn how to maintain a strong, stable and balanced posture and to move well, to make the most of all your activities, including sports and other physical performance as well as all the “regular” parts of living your interesting life!