Hands on, hands off?!

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A hot topic in physiotherapy at the moment is the role of touch in our profession. I feel it was a bit like discussing the role of needles in acupuncture. It’s not an optional extra. I’ve bandied the idea about with my patients and they are unilateral in their opinion that a large part of how they perceive physio is related to the touch aspect. However, seeing how some hands off physios work, it must be said they can get results too. I suppose in the end, it’s about the tools you have in your toolbox. If you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. My own approach is still very hands on, but there is also a large degree of getting patients to move, showing them how to do their own soft tissue releases and, of course, rehabilitation exercises appropriate to their conditions. Patients benefit of us being open minded to different approaches and not being territorial about our professions. More courses are now open to physios, chiros, osteopaths and sports therapist creating a overlap in skills that can only benefit our patients. So I suppose it’s up to each individual practitioner and patient to decide which approach suits them best. “A person made three dolls – one of porcelain, one of plastic, one of steel. If you hit all three with a hammer, the porcelain would smash into pieces, the plastic one would be dented, and the steel doll would give off a musical note.” So, it is not the hammer but how you are made that makes a difference. Practitioners will do well to remember this and adjust their treatments, whether it be hands on or not, to their patients.

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