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My Name is Lance- Remember Me…

st pauls

Today I find myself sitting in a coffee shop across the street from St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada waiting for my mother to have a procedure on her heart.  I just admitted her through the emergency room that has the insurmountable challenge of helping the people of our downtown Eastside caught in the epidemic of our opioid crisis.  It was an eye opening experience that inspired me to write this post and think further on the topic that I know is plaguing my city.  I am a healthcare professional that deals with people in various levels of pain all day.  I am also a person that due to a freak accident has found himself in the emergency room, in the operating room, given OxyContin, morphine and other drugs to try and help my immediate pain on a cycle of over three months.  My experience talking to Lance today in the St Paul’s ER has made me reflect on my experience and realize how slippery of a slope it can be for a person to go from a normal life, to an injury, to being a homeless drug addict living among throngs of others living out their own journeys on the street.

We arrived at the ER at 8:45am on a Saturday morning to a relatively quiet waiting room for downtown Vancouver’s only hospital.  There was one very talkative man being processed by the nurse.  He was seemingly a drug addict in withdraw and his father was quietly waiting in the chair looking like he had been through this before.  The dad was about my mother’s age and the talkative man was about my age.  I made sure my mom was taken care of at the admitting desk and then I was told to wait for about twenty minutes while the nurses processed her.  Read More

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Stomach Pain: A mechanical explanation & a pill-free treatment

day two hundred and one.
Back pain is the number one complaint that brings people into my office for physiotherapy treatment, but rarely do people have just one issue.  Many times people have a handful of symptoms, but either don’t think they are related, or don’t think it is necessary to mention it to their physiotherapist.  Most people see stomach pain as an issue for their doctor and/or something they just have to live with, but in my experience doctors just prescribe symptom treating pills that don’t get at the crux of the problem.  Stomach pain very much can be an acid balance problem, but it also can very commonly be a mechanical issue related to your mid back and the physical mobility of your stomach.

After learning the osteopathic approach of visceral manipulation, I started considering the physical toll people’s organs can have on their alignment and their pain.  I started noticing and feeling the tension in people’s abdomens and ribcages in a different way because I had a better understanding of how the anatomy is attached to the inside of their ribcage and spine.  More often than not, a client would come to see me complaining of mid to lower back pain, but I started asking “are you having any stomach problems,” because I started to pick up on a particular pattern of restriction in their mid-back and upper stomach.  Enough clients started saying “how did you know?” that I started sensing that I was on to something.

Your stomach is a muscular bag that sits in the upper left quadrant of your abdomen and is squished up against your liver and under your diaphragm.  To do its job properly it needs to be able to muscularly churn your food which requires mobility relative to its neighboring organs and surrounding structure.  The mobility in the upper abdomen can and does get affected by the nerves that originate from your lower thoracic spine or mid back area.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Case Studies, Mid Backs Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
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My Eye Injury: One Year Later

Double
photo: Andrew Kovalev
Imagine walking down the sidewalk on a nice summer day, enjoying the scenery and the sunshine all around you.  Now imagine taking a visual picture of what you see in front of you and copying it.  Take that copy and paste it diagonally up and to the right so that it overlaps half of the nice beautiful scene you are looking at.  Now take that second copy and strip all the detail out of it and cover it with a thin layer of milky water.  While you are at it, put a big smudge on anything that ends up in the centre of the picture and add distortion to anything that might be a straight line.  I have this milky, distorted, hologram version of the world superimposed over my proper vision now and it sucks.  And that’s not even the worst part, when I walk or drive I get the sense that the shitty hologram world is moving at me faster than the clear real world.  For example, every morning when I walk from my parking spot to my office there are a series of tree shadows across the sidewalk and a set of two manholes that I walk over.  As I approach the shadows and the manholes, I see double of everything, but as I get closer and closer to the real objects, the amount of the displacement of the second blurry pictures gets less and less to the point that they almost become one object as I pass over them.  The fact that my double vision gets worse the further an object is away creates the illusion that the world on the right of me is coming at me twice as fast as the world on the left of me even though they are actually distorted pictures of the same thing. 
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My Eye Injury: A physical and emotional battle

This article is a detailed account of the past 90 days of my life.  A big part of me wants to forget everything that happened to me over the past three months, but something inside of me wants to tell the story.  I warn you, that every time I go into detail about what I actually went through, people squirm and shy away, so this is my forum to get it all out.  It was the darkest, lowest part of my life to date and I am still only just collecting myself to re-establish some normalcy for my family and business.  I returned to work just a few weeks ago, under three weeks after my fourth eye surgery in two months after I was struck in the right eye with a hard orange floor hockey ball on August 19th, 2014.

My wife and three children were away at our family cabin.  I had returned to work for the week after an amazing almost 3 week holiday, but I only made it to Tuesday before my world changed.  Earlier in the summer a client had told me about a regular pick up floor hockey game at a nearby community centre.  I went a few times before my vacation, but I was the new guy amongst a group that had been playing together for a while.  The only guy I somewhat knew was my client who had told me about the game.

The game was social, but competitive.  Every guy had a different level of protective gear, but most did not have any form of eye protection.  I happened to have my squash goggles with me, but forget them in the car because I was running late.  I had never worn eye protection playing floor hockey before, but was definitely considering it with this group; unfortunately I never got the chance.  I decided to jump right into the game and was having a great time.  I scored five goals in the first two games before it happened.  I ended up in the corner just off to the side of net.  I turned back to follow the ball when I saw a split second of an orange ball flying right at my face. Read More

Posted in Blog, Case Studies, Healthcare, Miscellaneous, Pain Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
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Beth’s Story: an ex-runner turned mother rediscovers her body

pep talk from Mom...

Beth (as we will call her) was an energetic nurse in her mid-thirties with two young boys to chase around.  She was an elite runner in her early twenties, but these days walking a few blocks was a painful chore and picking up her kids was nearly impossible.  Pregnancy had done a number on Beth…twice.  She had endured the slow nine months of body changes.  She had powered through the labours and deliveries and ended up with two lovely little boys to watch grow and thrive, but her body as a result decided to stop cooperating with her desired lifestyle.  She went from competitive running, to running a few times a week with discomfort, to just chasing her kids around in pain, to simply walking being a painful task in a period of just a few years.

When Beth first walked into my office she had “tried physio, massage, chiro, core training, prolotherapy and IMS” for her back problems with mixed success.  IMS (intramuscular stimulation) had provided her with the most relief, but she still sat in front of me with a dysfunctional body so she obviously needed something more or different to help her get her body back.  Her goals were simple: walk without pain, play with her toddlers and generally live an active lifestyle.  I had to push her to include running on that list because she had resigned herself to the idea that she would never run again at the age of 37.

To look at her, Beth was a thin, lean looking runner with a big smile on her face and a positive attitude, even though her body had crapped out on her.  She appeared to have all the pieces, so why was she still having so much trouble?  Therapists had massaged her, needled her, stretched her, cracked her and strengthened her but she still couldn’t even walk without significant discomfort in her back.  Read More

Posted in Blog, Case Studies, Low Backs, New Moms Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
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Case Study #1: How a 34-year-old physiotherapist overcame his foot, back, hip & knee issues

I get asked by my clients all the time: ‘what made you want to be a physio?’ So I figured I would make myself Case Study #1 in a series that I am writing to help you relate to pain, injury and rehabilitation in a realistic and practical way.  My short answer to clients is usually ‘I’ve been an active athlete my whole life and have always been very good at hurting myself so I spent my fair share of time in physio.  I was quite familiar with it and always had a fascination with the human body so it was a natural progression for me after my Human Kinetics degree to go into Physiotherapy.

This article will summarize the lessons I have learned from both hurting myself repeatedly and working with people in pain every day.  I will outline the path I took to overcome some chronic issues that are very common to people of all ages and the things I try to teach to both my parents and my kids.

Brief Background …

I tend to refer to your teens and twenties as your invincible years.  You can punish your body without experiencing that much consequence because the pain, stiffness and soreness doesn’t last long enough to deter you from doing the activity again, or to change your behaviour significantly.  I was a long, lanky kid that played a lot of soccer, rugby, baseball, track & field, water-skiing, wake-boarding, basketball and volleyball.  I sprained ankles, broke my wrist, and dislocated my shoulder many times, but I kept on going.  Now at 34, after being a physiotherapist for ten years, starting a business and having three kids in three years, I have come to realize that I am the cumulative product of everything I have done up to this point and that I better take care of my body because it’s the only one I’ve got for the next 60 years (Click here for related article). Read More

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Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS): Your case studies & testimonials

The University of British Columbia has recently taken over Dr. Chan Gunn’s body of work researching the effects of Intramuscular Stimulation or IMS.  As a clinician that has been using it since 2008, I have no doubt of its efficacy, but the medical community has been slow to acknowledge it because of studies showing that acupuncture yields no benefit.  I find it unfortunate that the two forms of treatment get lumped together because they are fundamentally different treatment modalities.
 
I am not a researcher, but I am confident the research will eventually catch up to the clinical practice regarding IMS.  What I can help with, is to help gather case studies of peoples’ experience with IMS and give patients some information to go to their doctor with to help educate the medical community.

If you have had IMS as a treatment by your physiotherapist and care to share your experience (positive or negative) please share your story in the comments below in the following format:

A brief history of you and your pain:
e.g. I am a 46 year old runner with a 6 month history of knee pain when I run…

A brief history of what you may have tried prior to IMS:
e.g. “normal physio” with electrical machines, chiropractor, massage therapy, acupuncture, ice, heat

Who you saw for IMS and what your doctor’s thoughts were (if applicable):
Feel free to give your physio a plug or simply share how you heard about it

Your experience with IMS (short term and long term)
You may have found it uncomfortable, but felt looser afterward.  Totally open ended….tell us what happened for better or worse.

Click here to read my article explaining how IMS works and how it is different than acupuncture

Please leave your case study and/or testimonials below.  I will be providing a variety of interesting case studies involving IMS in the coming months.

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