I am quite often asked by patients, “Why did you become an osteopath?” And my answer is simple. I say: “To be honest, I have been intrigued by the profession ever since my father told me about how an old osteopath helped him with his recovery after he cheated death.”
In 1976 my dad was in what should have been a fatal accident. He was the passenger in a car that swerved to miss a head on collision. The car he was a passenger in travelled through a safety barrier above a railway bridge and landed on its roof, crushing and trapping all of its passengers inside. The result of this incident, amongst other nasty injuries, was a fracture vertebra in his neck. For over a year he had his neck and head held completely immobile in a metal cage to immobilise the area, allowing it to heal. But the damage had already been done. My dad had suffered irreversible nerve damage to the spinal cord in his neck and also to some nerves that exit the neck and communicate with his left arm. The result of this trauma caused his left arm to be completely paralysed for over a year, from which he suffered muscle atrophy due to lack of use. He also suffered from debilitating pain in his head, neck and back due to the spinal cord damage.
After many months of being bed ridden and having to learn to use only one arm, his body tried to adapt to his new way of life, using only his right arm and being unable to move his head. The way his body moved was changed forever. His body began to compensate for a loss of movement elsewhere and that in itself caused him more problems and pain. After several years he regained most of the movement in his arm but to this day still has limited sensation and complete numbness to his left thumb!
He was prescribed physiotherapy as part of his rehabilitation, which he said offered him minimal pain relief. He also went to see several chiropractors and again, was only afforded temporary relief. In the 1990’s, after suffering many years of pain he then heard of a different therapy called osteopathy. He had no idea what it was or what to expect but as a last resort for his pain he arranged an appointment. After a couple of sessions being treated by an old osteopath he told me that he felt great relief. His pain had by no means gone but he felt ‘freer’ in his movement, more mobile and had definitely noticed a difference in the levels of pain intensity, which continue to this day.
My dad told me this story when I was in my early teens. As a young enquiring mind I had many questions. I wanted to know everything about osteopathy, what it was and how it was able to help my dad when everything else seemed to fail. I was hooked…