Sunday, February 17, 2008

Eternal Struggles IV: "Pseudoscience displays an indifference to facts."

From the Coker article:

"Pseudoscience displays an indifference to facts."

I looked around the internet for links to bring that show the history of myofascial release, and sadly there is next to nothing out there. This wikipedia link is pretty good, probably the least misleading of any of the 48,000+ links google provides when one types in 'history myofascial release'. Myofascial release's origins are with osteopathic manipulative medicine, not with PT as such, or rolfing, or massage, although individuals in all of these "fields" would claim it as part of their own professional "toolbox". It is, like many other treatment interventions, including "manipulation", a world unto itself, taught by most as a simple set of hands-on tools, a label given to a specific form of kinesthetic awarenesses (see paragraph 4 here).

There appears to never have been any real proprietary context for this collection of kinesthetic contributions to human primate social grooming until Barnes came along. For example, Rolf did something like myofascial release which later became referred to as "Rolfing" whereas Barnes took the set of techniques along with the name it had acquired, clothed it in his own collection of strange constructs to "explain" how it works, branded it to try to make "MFR" synonymous with himself - probably to "sell" it easier. This is something done routinely in chiropractic, in my opinion a particularly odious proclivity... but wait, we haven't even gotten to the pseudoscience part of all this yet.

The FACT (toward which indifference is being displayed by Barnes et al.) is, (hello?) there is a peripheral nervous system inherent in skin and body that reads exteroceptive contact and reports it to the CNS, which acts (or doesn't) upon said exteroceptive information. This is a giant fact that should not be ignored, especially by someone who is supposedly a PT. To ignore this fact in such a blatant manner is intellectually unconscionable. To deliberately prefer to spread notions about "quantum shift", etc., instead, as a PT, is to radically undermine the PT profession itself, in my opinion. For the profession itself to ignore such shenanigans without protest is, at the very least, self-destructive.

If I could re-invent the physiotherapy profession, I would charge each member of it with the duty to safeguard it. Safeguarding would not consist of following a bunch of rules and training only one's hands to a set of predigested tasks: - No, it would be an ongoing interfacing process of backing up all treatment interventions with basic anatomical, physiological and biological knowledge, whatever the current best knowledge was, bearing in mind that science advances and therefore regular upgrades would be necessary to provide ongoing quality control. The medical profession does this to a large extent. My understanding is that this is what PT is supposed to be like.. but I would go a bit further and add that any member who refused to do this, who instead taught to other practitioners something else entirely, would, after a couple warnings, be expelled from the profession, have their license revoked. Then my profession would be one that stands up for itself, its future health, the healthy future for its membership, and the right of all patients treated by us to have explanations given to them that are straightforward and respect their intelligence.

Wow, just think: we could be a profession whose members help the public learn how to think rationally about their bodies and about pain. Of course, we have a lot of work to do on ourselves first with Occam's Chainsaw.

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