My aches and pains have been steadily diminishing since seeing Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD for the first time but they hadn’t vanished completely – yet. Only because it’s been a long and winding road of minor injuries over the decades. This being my tenth visit, I didn’t know what to expect since there are a variety of problem areas in my small frame. Tatz, usually a man of little words, surprised me when he sat down and spoke at length before my treatment began. He was insistent that I understand, “People don’t always want to hear what their real problem is.” I was a little worried he had something unpleasant to tell me about my own health, but I listened.
First he told me that sometimes people have psychological problems and not physical problems. “I always tells my patients the truth but sometimes they get upset with me.” Very recently, he told one of his patients that she might want to consider talking to a professional about her emotional problems; she left in tears. He explained in cases of the mind, doctors such as bestselling author Dr. John Sarno are very good at helping people understand that they can heal themselves by addressing underlying emotional issues. He also noted that can only happen if there is not an underlying physical problem. He was very concerned about this patient of his.
He went onto tell me about another patient with a different problem. He suggested that she consult a neurologist, orthopedist, or oncologist. She, too, left very upset but instead went to see other physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists – all of them experts in their fields. About two months later, Tatz tried reaching out to her. He left a couple of phone messages, inquiring as to how she was doing. Eventually she returned to him, asking for a massage. Tatz treated her and then told her again, she should seek out the opinion of a neurologist, orthopedist, or oncologist. She left his office, this time angry. About six months later, Tatz received a letter of apology and also thanking him. His patient explained she was receiving chemotherapy treatments for bone cancer. Sadly, a couple of years later, she passed away. Would she have survived if she had followed Tatz’ advice earlier? Of course, no one will ever know. It saddens Tatz to think about her.
Tatz is adamant that he never recommends doctors or practitioners who are his friends. He always tells his patients, go research to find the right person for you. Then later, if they cannot find the right doctor, Tatz will certainly make referrals.
Every person, every body is different. Every story is different. Not everybody wants to know what his or her real problem is. But Tatz is always honest with his patients, if someone has a problem that is not in his realm of expertise, or territory, he’ll refer them so that they have the best chance for optimum health. And if Tatz can help, he’s one of the best there is.
So then I figured Tatz was going to tell me something really scary about my health. I asked, “So are you going to tell me the truth?” Tatz response, “I always tell the truth.” He then asked, “What are we working on today?” Since there were so many variables to my health, on this day I told him, “My knee.”
Tatz started the treatment by having me sit in a chair and began to work on my head. With his left hand, he held my head in perfect alignment while with his right hand he gave small, gentle adjustments to my neck and head. Loosening up blocks, freeing the range of motion. After about twenty minutes, he had me stand up and walk – however he followed me holding onto my neck, making minor adjustments. Then he had me walk across the room alone while he watched. Thereafter he took me in front of a mirror and illustrated small movements for my neck and head – movements that were ever so slight to the right and left, plus up and down. After which, he told me to walk in place, bending my knees, while keeping my feet on ground – focusing on the complete movement of each ankle. Once I learned exactly what he wanted me to do, he told me to combine them, the walking in place with gentle head movements, then he added: swaying arms back and forth mildly. Three different movements at the same time. Tatz pointed to the trees outside, then said, “Our bodies should be like the top of the trees, in constant gentle movement.”
He then had me walk across the room, utilizing my ankles more than usual. He explained, most physical therapists (including himself earlier in his career) use weights to build strength. But he believes that strong ankles prepare the road for strong knees. It’s not only muscles we need to rebuild; it’s flexibility in joints and bones.
He then took me into another room for a lying down treatment. He moved the right leg and knee showing me how flexible in perfect shape it was, and then moved to my left leg, my troubled side. He worked on my knee and then noticed my hip was out of whack. I admitted that I’d had longer-term problems with my hip than my knee. He queried, “But you said you needed help with your knee today.” I smiled and said back to him “I guess that’s why I’m here. You’ll figure it out for the both of us.” He showed me an exercise for the left hip, which was to lift my hip across my body, using my knee as my guide. It was tangible and simple.
After working on my left knee and hip, loosening, and massaging, he placed his Diapulse Machine over my left knee and left for approximately twenty minutes. This machine directs a pulsed electromagnetic field to an injured area. When he returned, he placed the Diapulse over my left hip and exited for another period of time. When he returned, I asked about the previous exercises, the ones from previous treatments, shall I continue them? He smiled and said, “Yes, if they help, keep doing them!” He added, “Remember when you walk through New York, keep those ankles engaged and take it slow and easy.” And then he vanished into another room with another patient. A man who’d been in an accident and was in much more pain than me. He was lucky to have found Tatz.
I felt thankful for my own good heath. Every time I see Tatz I make incremental progress. Fewer headaches, and now when I walk I make better strides.
by J. Baldwin