How quickly we forget the life we leave behind when we adopt a new technology that makes possible the previously impossible. Before satellite navigation, driving to a city you didn’t know involved an A-Z Map and the expectation of asking at least one person at a garage for directions. Now, however, we can drive to a new city with barely a second thought.

Sheffield Physiotherapy is recognized as one of the leading innovators in physiotherapy in the country. I sometimes get asked why we are pushing so hard to integrate new technologies into the practice? The answer is more complex than you might imagine and goes beyond some vague notion of improved outcomes for patients.

At Sheffield Physiotherapy, we are very specific about which technologies we integrate into our treatments, however, what often links them is their ability to safely increase the amount of energy we can apply to the body. The reason for this is simple physics; the more energy you are able to put into a system the greater your ability to change it.

If you simply use your hands you can only safely apply fairly low levels of energy. Attempts to increase this result in a rough “beat um up” style of physiotherapy which leaves people feeling sore for a couple of days after treatment.

Simple ‘low energy’ physiotherapy by necessity needs to focus on the part of the body which is injured and is often unable to effectively address the underlying causes of the problem.

Technology-assisted or ‘high energy’ physiotherapy, by contrast, allows for more energy to be safely applied to the body. For example; in the case of the TheraFlex equipment we use to mobilise the spine, it allows for a strategy of restoring the spine’s suppleness and flexibility which facilitates a reduction in overstrain of the damaged tissues which are causing the pain. Progressively relieved of structural overstrain these tissues begin to heal. So far so good, yet it is at this point that the true value of this ‘high energy’ physiotherapy this time in the form of TheraFlex emerges. For as the tissues begin to heal the body’s coping strategies begin to be wound back. In this way, muscles which were in spasm in order to protect a damaged area begin to relax. As they do so the damaging compressive forces they were causing are relieved. A virtues cycle of less compression causing less damage then results in less muscle spasm and therefore less damaging compression.

Over time the protective muscle spasm is wound back to much more normal levels. Relieved of compression, tissues recover and the pain eases, often even previously trapped nerves begin to work more normally once again.

At this point, many times returned to a state of being pain-free and feeling able to do all that they wish to in order to live a “normal life” the patient can be offered TheraFlex treatment on a maintenance basis. Such treatment is delivered in order to maintain the body’s ability to dissipate strain as people move and partake in; life, work, and sporting activities.

As our patients always have open access to us there is no concept of discharging people from our care. Where a condition is degenerative in nature like most spinal and joint conditions in people aged over 30 maintenance treatment is superior to a boom and bust approach of patching people up every time their back “goes out”.

At Sheffield Physiotherapy, we have a vision of patients maintained in a state of good spinal health for a lifetime. We envision them able to enjoy their lives to the full, unimpeded by pain and stiffness perpetuated by their body’s attempts to protect damaged tissues as they move.

Technology makes the previously impossible possible in every arena that it touches, and physiotherapy is no exception to this rule. History, in fact, offers us no counterexamples to this phenomenon and in the case of modern ‘high energy’ physiotherapy, it means that patients who previously couldn’t be helped over the long-term now often can be.

Like all technological revolutions the thought of going back to the old ways of doing things, be that navigating via an A-Z Map or physiotherapy where we just treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying mechanical cause of the problem is something we barely even want to think about.

We’re currently offering a free 30-minute assessment to new patients, so if you would like us to find out what could be causing your pain, and suggest immediate and long-term solutions, you can book your session here: http://bit.ly/2iZkOIv

Here is a video about the TheraFlex Machine.

This blog was written by John Wood the Clinical Director at Sheffield Physiotherapy