Treatment

Physical Therapy: The Ancient Practice and Overlooked Modalities of Insurance Companies

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It was the Ancient Greek Doctor and Founder of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, who first introduced Physical Therapy as a form of healing. But it wasn’t until the 1970’s that Western Medicine would formally allow Physical Therapists to have their own practices. Before then, most Physical Therapy was done in hospitals.

Alternative therapies these days are referred to as just about anything outside Western Medicine and hospitals, such as Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Naturopathic, Chiropractic. The list goes on. But lost somewhere between medicine and alterative is Physical Therapy: PT shouldn’t be overlooked, as it is one of the true and natural modalities there is.

A skilled Physical Therapist can examine, evaluate and treat patients from chronic illnesses to severe and mild injuries. Physical Therapists are known to reduce or eliminate pain. Benefits of PT can include recovering from falls, injuries and fractures; recovering from strokes; managing vascular conditions including diabetes; heart and lung problems; headaches and migraines; age related limitations including arthritis, facial nerve paresis, fibromyalgia, gastritis, insomnia; as well as ankle, knee, back, disc, shoulder, neck and TMJ pain. The list goes on and on.

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Headache Follow Up Treatment on Neck and Jaw

I arrived a bit early for my eighth visit with Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD. His waiting room is a constant, relaxing oasis. There are three red velvet orchestra seats to choose from, numbered 13, 15 & 17. Or, there’s also a comfortable piano bench to sit on. Prominently placed in the waiting area is a beautiful bronze sculpture of healing hands. His two assistants are always kind, smart and soft-spoken. I’d had success with Tatz’ previous treatment, in essence with all his treatments, but last time Tatz had made a leap with my headaches. The head pain had disappeared for a few days and it hadn’t come back in its usual way. This time, my head was sore versus piercing.

Tatz whisked me into one of his private rooms, had me lie face up, and immediately placed cold laser therapy instruments on both sides of my neck and disappeared for at least twenty minutes or so. I’d become accustomed to the cold laser treatments from Tatz. From my understanding, the cold laser was first developed in Europe: A noninvasive form of light amplification. On this particular treatment I fell fast asleep.

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Physical Therapy for Severe Headaches

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When I went in for my seventh visit with Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD, I was in pretty bad shape. Without exaggeration I was coming out of a three-day migraine, had been unable to keep food or water down, plus had heart palpitations on the right side of my chest which sent me into my local MD’s office – although the EKG checked out fine. During these dark hours of what I call a level nine headache, where communing with the outside world is not an option, I obsessed on what to do about these headaches and migraines that have high jacked my life. I was considering surgery as a possibility, for a previously diagnosed hiatal hernia, since some experts say that the GI tract can cause all sorts of headaches, dizziness and palpitations. For the record, my MD was not recommending it, more like I was desperate.

Tatz was, as ever, attentive and went straight to the problem that day: My head. He asked me to lie in the most comfortable position, in which I chose to be face up. His hands gravitated first to the crown of my head, in particular the top of my forehead. His fingers lightly massaged these areas as well as my temples. Then with the grip of his two hands he cradled the left and right side of my brain: the two hemispheres. He held them and massaged them in opposite directions. After awhile, he moved back to the temples, touching more firmly, then the neck and below the neck. Probing, and shaking and attempting to liberate the pent up tension. Then his touch become stronger across the surface of my entire head, especially the right jaw. Then he asked that I open, close and contort my jaw in constant motions while simultaneously his technique became more intense across all these areas of head and neck.

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Stomach Treatment with Diapulse

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Blooming tulips in the garden outside the studio.

On my third visit with Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD he asked where was I experiencing the most pain. Quite frankly, even though I felt I had made progress, I couldn’t assess myself between the intermittent pain in my head or my knee, or the things I hadn’t told him about yet. So I asked him, would he please evaluate and decide what would be the priority for the day.

He first conducted more delicate work on my head, incredibly mild. He touched most areas of my forehead, jaw and entire skull. He put his hands above my head and seemed to ‘brush’ the energy away from my head. It was super-relaxing. Then he focused his hands on my left knee, moving it to and fro, in all directions, more of a medium touch. He told me to keep both knees moving, gently, through each day. Then, while working on my knee, he started exploring my stomach and abdomen, probing, pressing, and adjusting. Digging deeply with his hands. He did all this without words.

I was amazed that he was exploring my organs because I hadn’t yet told him about the diagnosis I had earlier in the year. In the medical community’s exploration into my headaches I was referred to a gastroenterologist who performed an endoscopy. The result: Mild hiatal hernia, mild gastritis, and mild acid reflux. Acid reflux in some medical circles is also called The Great Imitator: The acid reflux can take on other symptoms such as headaches, heartaches, asthma etc. Thereafter I tried two forms of medication. First Omeprazole: I immediately experienced severe side effects, chills flu heart, deep migraine etc. Then tried taking a half a dose. Still the same side effects. Then came another medication, Sucralfate. Also caused minor side effects. Simultaneously in my research, I learned from some professionals that these medications are just blockers to the problem, like putting masking tape on to keep everything together. These meds were never going to be curative. Plus my stomach was bloated, not from overeating, but something to do with my GI tract. I hadn’t figured it out, nor had anyone else.

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Body Tuning for Intermittent Migraines with an Additional Knee Treatment

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I felt bad the second time I saw Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD because while I had initially gone to see him about my knee, what was plaguing me the most was the pounding headache I’d been having for four days solid. Well, I hadn’t even told him on his initial consultation that I’d had unsolvable undiagnosable daily headaches for over two years, not to mention intermittent migraines ten years preceding that. Sure I’d seen several medical doctors including a neurologist and many other practitioners. My greatest most painful attempt to end the headaches was the hugely scary six-injections-at-once of nerve block treatments, in which my head was painfully sore for a month. The second most alarming treatment was a blood pressure medicine ‘sometimes used for migraines.’ This put me into the Emergency Room after three doses. That said, most of the specialists were talented and kind, but no one, no treatment, thus far had solved the problems inside my head. Least of all me.

In any case, I confessed my headache sorrows to Tatz who immediately began to work on my head. Always gently. First, with his hands assessing and probing where my stress was being held: Primarily in the back of my skull where I once had a childhood cyst removed. Then he placed his left hand over my heart, while gently pulsing with his right hand across the sensitive parts of my head – which was just about everywhere that particular day. He then asked me to try opening and closing my mouth, mild cranial exercises while he continued the rest of the treatment: He put hands-on pressure on my legs – and later explained the pain in my legs was connected to my head and that a person’s entire physical body is all inter-connected. There are no separate parts! All this being his ‘body-tuning’ technique that he developed over the last fifty years. He told me to keep moving my jaw up and down gently while teaching me mild facial stretches, including scrunching up my nose. After he spent more time and intensive work on my head, neck and skull, I was already feeling better.

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Knee Treatment: Torn Meniscus and Loss of Cartilage

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Before heading to see Shmuel Tatz, PT, PhD about my knee, I’d heard from more than one doctor the WHAT NOT TO DO LIST: No stairs, no kneeling, no crossing legs, no sitting on floor, no squatting, no dancing. Plus I had a hard time wrapping my head around my previous physical therapist experiences: lots of clipboards and sessions with different PT’s each time and no results other than frustration. Still left with an imperfect knee that had suffered a few life-injuries. First there was the fall resulting in the tibial plateau fracture, then the torn meniscus, then the basic wear and tear, and loss of cartilage. The messages I was receiving from the medical community was to accept my ‘trick knee’.

That said, I wasn’t willing to give up and started asking friends and searching online for a specialist in physical therapy. One that might take insurance was another issue as I was on a pretty tight budget. After calling at least twenty PT offices, I reached Dr. Tatz’ office whose lovely assistant ushered me in immediately.

Tatz, the NYC acclaimed gray-haired PT, wasn’t much for words. He was more interested in what my entire body was saying to him and his reactions to my body versus vocabulary. His navigations seemed to be intuitive rather than straight out of a medical journal. He ‘tuned’ my body from the jaw down, gentle manipulations that made me feel thankful for the solid hour away from the pressures of NYC. Sometimes when seeing practitioners, I worry about what’s going on outside of the room rather than relaxing and healing inside.

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Steps to Treating Back Pain

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The first step is to have some form of cold/ice compress ready for your back. You can take a wet towel and place it in the freezer for an hour, or take ice and wrap it in a towel or use an ice pack.

The next step is to find a comfortable lying position for your back and spine. You can either lie directly on your back with your feet planted and your legs bent or your legs straight out in front of you. Another option is to lie on your less sensitive and painful side with a pillow for under your head and another pillow in between the knees. In this position you need to make sure your knees are close to your chest in order to have flection in the spine. A third option is to lie flat on your stomach and make a pillow for your head with your forearms and elbows and rest your forehead.

Once you have found a comfortable position for you, take your form of cold compress and place it on the sensitive/painful part of the spine. You should remain in pose and focus on breathing. The idea is to bring breath and air to the sensitive part of the spine and allow gravity to take over. Remain here for 15-20min.

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Treatment of the Face for Trumpet Player

For trumpet players, and most wind instrumentalists, there is a lot of activity in the face muscles and scalp while playing and practicing. Though we spend many hours trying to make our playing feel natural, playing any instrument is not a natural activity compared to laughing, crying, or even screaming.

From being in an unnatural position, it is inevitable that we develop discomfort in the body. Some people recover quickly after long periods of practice, but some people do not. They need help with the recovery process.

In an effort to improve recovery, control, and stamina, many people try to make stronger muscles. But this is the biggest mistake. The right approach is to make stronger muscles that we have better control over.

The first thing to learn is how to control the sphincters of the face, which are the eyes and mouth.

The second is the scalp. We know that using the muscles of the lips is important for wind musicians. But the lips are connected to the eyes, and the eyes are connected to the scalp. To keep the muscles of the head in harmony is the best way to support the embouchure.

The third area to address is the jaw. First we must learn to the move the jaw actively. This includes moving the jaw left to right, forwards and backwards, and up and down. After this we can progress to moving the jaw passively by holding it in our hands and moving it freely as if it were floating in space. The jaw should hang freely without fighting gravity.

After moving the jaw actively and passively, the third skill to learn is manual maneuvering and self-tuning. This includes self-mobilization, message, and the application of acupressure points.

When the musician has learned these skills he will have the tools to maintain his body and help it repair after demanding playing sessions.

Flute Player’s Pulled Neck Muscle Treatment

Clara, a flute player, came in for therapy on Tuesday morning reporting that she was in too much pain to play her instrument and could not function normally during the day. She was exceptionally busy the previous week playing upwards of 8 hours a day and performing three concerts in one week. On the Monday morning after this week, the day before her first treatment, she was drying her hair and pulled a muscle in her neck. She felt a sharp pain that resulted in an immediate loss of motion. She was un-able to play her flute that day due to intense pain. Clara had had no previous episodes of neck injury but commented that she plays flute, so she has some “inherent neck tension.”

She immediately went to seek medical help. She made an appointment with an internist for that Monday afternoon. The physician told her to make an appointment with an orthopedist. This usually takes about 2 weeks. In the meantime, she was instructed to apply ice and take Advil. Clara made the appointment but was not satisfied with waiting. She was also told by the physical therapist at Juilliard that no appointments were available until the following week. It is essential for a working musician to be able to receive immediate treatment and begin practicing again.

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Our Therapeutic Machines

There are four treatment rooms in the Body Tuning clinic, each musical in name: Orchestra, Guitar, Piano and Violin. There are no instruments in the rooms but there are a number of impressive machines used to help patients’ ailments.

Vibration

In the open area there is a machine that looks like a treadmill; it vibrates and loosens muscles. Sometimes patients will stand on it for about 10 minutes with their lower body shaking before the appointment begins to remove tension in the extremities.

There’s also a smaller vibrating leg and ankle machine that is placed at the end of the treatment table also shaking things up, loosening ankles, feet, and lower legs.

Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser is one of the treatments used, which is essentially a light amplifier, building on beliefs about the healing power of light going back to Hippocrates and ancient times. Throughout history many believed that light therapy could harness the power of the sun to heal. However cold laser is different from the sun as it is a compressed waveform, usually from the red spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Low-level lasers provide a form of pure light to deeply penetrate the surface of the skin without heating or damaging body tissues.

Cold Laser has been approved by the FDA as an effective painless drug free therapy successful in treating muscle spasms, nerve pain and arthritis. It has also been shown to increase the speed of wound and fractures healing.

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