Becoming an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner
When I first started to tell my clients and friends that I was returning to school (yes again) to receive a Diploma as an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner I was often asked “what is that and why do you want to do that?” To be honest I didn’t have a great answer. I really wasn’t sure – all I knew was that osteopathy worked for me, and it helped people. For me, working with and receiving regular treatments from an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner makes me feel better, as do my clients who see one. After starting the Diploma program, over the first month or so I still had a hard time defining what it was that I would be doing. A simple definition of it being “holistic manual medicine” as so many osteopathic web sites define – didn’t seem to be enough. I started to learn the principles of osteopathy and that’s when it started to click.
What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is defined by the Ontario Association of Osteopathy and Natural Medicine as “A unique and natural medicine for the treatment of disease. Osteopaths apply the knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology together with palpation methods to release the restrictions in the body.” (www.oaonm.com)
In my experience it is an effective non-invasive manual therapy that affects all body systems, such as the circulatory, digestive, muscular, skeletal and nervous systems.
Each appointment begins with an exam and a discussion; the patient is assessed for posture, gate, range of motion, strength, pain and touch. Each of these factors are used to help determine the course of treatment.
Practitioners use a variety of modalities such as: Tender or Trigger Point Release, Joint Manipulation, Stretching, Resistance Techniques, visceral Manipulation and Cranial Therapy Techniques to help restore the body to balance.
Following treatment there may be some suggestions on how a patient can work on correcting biomechanics, posture, strength, flexibility, and improve their overall well-being.
Why I chose Osteopathy?
Examining and treating the body as a whole really speaks to me as a practitioner. I understand for example that a headache and neck pain is rarely that simple – that the sensation experienced in the head and neck have an entire story behind it. I also understand in my work as an RMT and Certified Yoga Instructor that structure dictates function. If the body structure is off in one way or another, due to injury, poor body mechanics or altered posture, a person may not be able to move or breathe correctly and this may in turn affect the function of other systems or organs in the body. Therefore, if we can work on establishing a healthier structure the rest of the body and its systems will function more optimally.
My goal as an RMT has always been to help my patients on their path to getting better. Part of this is hearing what brings people to my practice, whether it’s an expectant mom or a family with a new baby, a 10 year old athlete, a person who works at a desk or someone who sells vacuums door to door, we all have a story to tell and this is part of the healing process. I love putting those pieces together, the aha moment when they remember that they broke a bone when they were 6 and now they are 76. I am so happy that after treatment, when the pain a patient has had in their shoulder for 20 years is finally gone. Or when a client says they’ve tried everything and this was the last resort before surgery and they feel better. I love it when after working with a new baby and mom, they are finally able to breastfeed without pain, or that baby can finally turn their head both ways. To be able to listen to their stories and have patients put their trust in me is a huge honour and responsibility. I am excited to apply my knowledge as an RMT with the new knowledge I am acquiring as an Osteopathic Manual Therapist and to see how it helps my practice grow and my patients get better. I feel blessed that I am in a position where I can continue to listen, assess and to help not only in improve their structure and function, but also help create a positive story in moving towards optimal health.