A big part of the SPEAR culture is continuous learning, as individual physiotherapists and as a team. Team CPD sessions take place one Wednesday lunchtime of every month, an evening session every 2 months and twice a year where we explore clinic life, SPEAR plans and those big ideas! The next SPEAR physiotherapy in-service session is on “hands-on clinical skills and the current evidence”; and in this blog from SPEAR physio, Lesley, we explore the power of touch in physiotherapy.
Touch has been an important part of humanity for thousands of years and, as David J Linden says:
“is the most important sense we have”.
It makes us human. Physiotherapists are skilled manual therapists and it can be strongly argued; and evidence supports this, that it is a vital part of our treatment options.
Touch can convey meaning that words cannot. “The skin is the outside of the brain” and therefore touch allows direct communication with the brain. This allows physiotherapists to not only influence local injury (the specific area around an injury) but also the effect it is having on the central nervous system.
The positive effects of manual therapy on an injury.
Pain from an injury can lead to disuse and will create a total change in sensory awareness of that an injured area. Manual therapy is essential to improve the image of the area in the brain’s cerebellum; this means that during manual therapy it establishes a reconnection to the injured area which “allows” it to start moving in the correct way again. This can speed up the initial recovery phase and also prevents long term problems as it encourages the right muscles to work in the right way.
Hands on treatment also improves sensory awareness of an area by creating a map of the touched area in the brain’s cerebellum. This is essential as the injured area can be accessed normally by the central nervous system and normal (or regular) movement with correct muscle activation can be achieved; which will, again, enhance recovery.
Effectively, by physiotherapists using hands-on therapy and the power of touch, they can facilitate the recovery of an injury / injured area and the prevention of long term and secondary problems.
Still not sure about the power of touch?
There is plenty of high quality research based evidence that manual therapy has a positive and, in some cases, essential influence on injury treatment and recovery.
The key, as with all physiotherapy, is that the physiotherapist listens to what the patient needs and what the patient goals are. This discussion is imperative to guide and plan treatment to get the best result.
Every person is different with many different influences that are based around what the injury is; like personal life, amount of time available and many other variables. Individuals will have a widely differing idea of what treatment will work for them and what they want and no one treatment option will work for everyone; so every treatment must also be different and tailored to the individual.
Physiotherapists should provide no more ……but no less than what the client requires.