Who Uses FM?

I’m embarrassed to confess that I used to be a snot about practitioners. As a PT I was very biased toward believing that the best clinician for handling patients for a multitude of diagnoses was a PT. Maybe if we’re honest we all start out that way. But maturity and experience have shown me otherwise, from two perspectives.

PT patch for lab coat
The old patch I used to wear on my lab coat. I haven’t seen one of these in years, and am very thankful we are not so rigid about wearing a uniform with a patch.

First, I hear stories from patients I have followed behind other PT’s whose treatment of their patients was not very impressive. PT’s have the reputation, perhaps rightly earned, of counting on exercises as a pillar of their care. As a result, PT patients often end up with a hopelessly long list of exercises they eventually abandon, and it’s the patient’s fault they didn’t get or stay better because they didn’t do their exercises. Something about that has just never sat right with me, especially when I have been the patient. I would diligently work with my prescribed exercises, but I never felt they accomplished what I hoped for. Suffice it to say PT is like many other professions: some clinicians are passionate about going all out to help their patients, and some just don’t care as much. This is true for hairdressers, auto mechanics, dentists, and cashiers.

Secondly, I have met clinicians from a multitude of other professions that wowed my socks off. Their dedication to their patients, searching out the cause of a problem, and working hard to help their patients is heroic. This is the kind of clinician I want to be, and the kind of clinician I want treating me, my family, or anyone who asks me for a referral to a good clinician. Maybe this helps you understand why it’s so hard to confidently refer, and why I made the Find a Provider section of this website. When I can find this kind of person quite frankly I don’t really care as much what the letters are after their name. Sure, there are cases where those letters absolutely matter. But I’ll reiterate what put in my section on Fascia Facts:

Knowledgeable hands do not necessarily go with lots of letters after one’s name, nor do knowledgeable hands always accompany a particular health care field or license.  To my way of thinking, knowledgeable hands are developed by a person who: 

  • Uses their hands regularly and frequently for palpation in assessment and treatment
  • Is open-minded and seeking, even when it means they need to revise their paradigm, which is very demanding
  • Embraces a life-long path of learning
  • Is willing to give all they can to each patient, and is also passionate about helping people recover and thrive

So I celebrate anyone who does all this, regardless of their professional silo or which approach(es) they utilize. 

FM Level 3 Las Vegas 2016
I was excited and privileged to attend the first FM Level 3 course held in the US. Level 3 covers internal dysfunction and the relationship of the musculoskeletal system to the internal organs. There is also a lot of information on the autonomic nervous system. As you can imagine the course was pretty deep and complex, not at all easy to digest (no pun intended). Those attending came from all over the country and represented a wide variety of professional silos. I love gatherings like this where everyone lays aside their professional letters and comes together to learn. I wore a bright orange shirt that day so I would be easy to spot.

As mentioned earlier, FM is used all over the world by a variety of clinicians. These include medical doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists/body workers, nurses, athletic trainers, and, of course, physical therapists. Many incredible professionals have stepped out from the comfort zone their professional silo affords to explore the possibilities FM offers, all in an effort to accomplish better results and get to the root cause of the problems our patients manifest. They all have my respect, whether I share the same professional title with them or not. I have undergone a major paradigm shift in my prior bias, and as it stands now I would rather refer to a clinician who is well versed in FM – regardless of the letters after their name – than one who does not use it, including a PT.

Who uses FM? A host of dedicated clinicians from a variety of disciplines. And now I can say that even five-year-olds use it!

5 year old doing FM
Here I am, a child prodigy at age five. Even then I saw the value of FM. Just kidding. This is the five year old granddaughter of a patient. She came along on treatment day and really wanted to help. I started her out by having her hold the percussion gun on the site to prep the area while I worked on the opposite side with FM. I turned my back to put up the percussion gun and the little FM’er jumped right in and starting treating her grandmother just like she saw me doing (yes, it’s an-la-ta). Too cute to pass up without capturing a picture.

Published by Colleen Murphy Whiteford

I am a physiotherapist, graduate of Saint Louis University Class of 1984. I married my best friend and business partner, Bill, who is also a physiotherapist, in 1988. We have worked together all these years - an example of God's grace! Together we started Appalachian Physical Therapy which continues to thrive. I am a big believer in the power of touch, the manual therapies, and treating holistically. There are many alternatives to medications, surgeries, and testing, but people are often uninformed. My perspective emphasizes the role of the connective tissues including the fascia. Lack of attention to this structure is the source of many physical ailments - our bodies are truly fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)! I am passionate about helping people of all ages and diagnoses maximize their health, and empowering them to understand their role in management and prevention of problems.

4 thoughts on “Who Uses FM?

  1. Wonderfully conceived and written. Congratulations! Love, Rene

    On Mon, Jul 19, 2021 at 12:30 PM Fearfully Wonderfully Made wrote:

    > Colleen Murphy Whiteford posted: ” I’m embarrassed to confess that I used > to be a snot about practitioners. As a PT I was very biased toward > believing that the best clinician for handling patients for a multitude of > diagnoses was a PT. Maybe if we’re honest we all start out that way. But ” >

  2. Once more, an informative message that ends with the sweetest photo! She is ready to follow in your steps. . .

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