Why Manual Therapy With the IPA (Institute of Physical Art®) Approach?

My patients weren’t getting better fast enough because I wasn’t effectively answering the 3 questions that every patient has:

  • What’s wrong with me? 
  • What can I do about it? 
  • How long is it going to take? 

Of course, I later learned that my peer’s patient education was better at answering these questions in one form or another.  And I can talk a lot about pathology and prognosis.  I mean we were all clinical doctorates, right?  So shouldn’t we, as physical therapists, automatically be able to communicate value to our patients because of just getting help from us?  In reality, it’s the whole package: the things I say, the exercises that I prescribe, and the manual techniques that I do.  This is, of course, excluding marketing and the whole patient experience.  Clinically, I felt that my entry-level manual skills from physical therapy school were not sufficient enough to communicate value to my patients.

The inside scoop among physical therapists is that some physical therapists value exercise more and others manual therapy more because of his/her comfort zone.  And this is true of our patients as well.  There are benefits to both approaches.  Furthermore, it has to be a good match between the preference of the patient and the skill of the physical therapist.  As I learned it, the physical therapy profession swings back and forth every 10 years or so between what the next “new” thing for our patients is, whether therapeutic exercise or manual therapy treatment.  Because for the patient, therapeutic exercise teaches him/her independence; manual therapy gives the patient a boost to help do the therapeutic exercises better.  Our patients need both and the IPA approach does this.

So why the IPA approach?  I like how it looks at the whole person.  It also combines both therapeutic exercise and manual therapy together.  Through the leadership of Gregg and Vicki Johnson, who teach and mentor physical therapists through the Institute of Physical Art®, it integrates EVERYTHING and it shakes paradigms.  It teaches Automatic Core Engagement (ACE)® vs consciously contracting abs for “core strength.”  It integrates proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) concepts and techniques along the “functional joint” of myofascial lines.  It improves patient education with Awareness Through Movement (ATM)® with the Feldenkrais Method® during selective soft tissue mobilization techniques.  And it works best while the patient is doing selective movements and exercises.  Orthopedically, it helps answer all 3 questions that every patient has in a timely manner when they come in for physical therapy.  The IPA approach is the best of both worlds and, most importantly, it gives the power back to you, THE PATIENT!


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