Why Manual Therapy?
A personal goal for 2023 is to write a monthly pro-manual therapy blog series called "Why Manual Therapy?". My purpose is to challenge my capacity to generate knowledge on a topic by bringing together ideas, thoughts, and resources on manual therapy.
The series intends to push to the edge of this topic, “why manual therapy” by making a case for the necessity of manual therapy with our patients in a simple 1000 words or less blog, once a month, for a year. The readings will be to the point and thought-provoking to support using hands-on care in daily clinical practice.
My Three Hopes:
-We all finish this series knowing more than when we started to help our patients get better faster.
-To bring in some guest blogs along the way.
-That you enjoy the short readings over the coming months and follow along with the entire series.
Chapter 1: Sensory Input Drives Brain Plasticity
The 2013 article by Schabrun et al. titled "An Update on Brain Plasticity for Physical Therapists" is an easy-to-read reminder about the importance of targeting and integrating the adaptive capacities of afferent/sensory inputs to drive neuroplastic changes in the human body.
(The article can be downloaded HERE)
(If you were unable to download email me at email@example.com for a copy)
I had the privilege of hearing the author lecture several years ago and one of her direct messages stuck with me; "sensory drives brain plasticity".
The article's conclusion quotes, "The plastic capabilities of the human brain have significant relevance to musculoskeletal physical therapy. Afferent input generated by ‘peripheral’ conditions and in the form of exercise, manual therapy, or electrical stimulation is a powerful driver of plastic change. It is essential that physical therapists consider the effects of current therapies on the brain and contribute to the development of new plasticity-based therapies capable of enhanced performance, reduced pain, and improved recovery of function. Considering and integrating plasticity concepts into clinical practice, research and education will ensure physical therapists stay abreast of this rapidly advancing field."
This is a very appealing reason for me to use manual therapy. It may be my most foundational reason! Remembering the human nervous system is extraordinarily capable of neuroplastic change sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of a busy day in the clinic. However, her message of "sensory drives brain plasticity” frequently resurfaces and reminds me to use my hands to drive sensory input as part of a multi-modal patient care approach.
Viewing the nervous system’s adaptive capabilities through the lens of “sensory input driving plasticity changes” is a big reason why I am passionate about manual therapy.
Until next time,
1. Schabrun, Siobhan & Ridding, Michael & Chipchase, Lucy. (2013). An update on brain plasticity for physical therapists. Physiotherapy Practice and Research. 34. 1-8. 10.3233/PPR-2012-0009.