How I Got Better Results Spending Less Time With Patients

Posted By: Dave O’Sullivan

To start with Alan can you give us a little bit of background of yourself, I know you have an interesting story with your athletics background and your experiences there leading to getting into the therapy world?

Yeah no problem, I got really into athletics in my twenties. Joined the army around that time which really ignited my passion for fitness again. Things were going really well, representing Ireland, doing 1500m + 1800m on the track. Then injuries started to come pretty rapidly and eventually that ended my athletics career. That got my mind thinking on a personal level why some people can handle high training loads where I could get fit and build up but then the body breaks down. I couldn’t find the answers I was looking for, travelled to other countries seeing other therapists and everything. That’s really why I got into it myself, for the personal journey, and it’s just evolved since then.

And how did you first come across the ProSport Academy?

Just following different therapy things on Facebook and Dave started appearing in my feed. I was listening to what he was saying and thinking that he makes a lot of sense. I was agreeing with pretty much everything he was saying and he was very clear, concise and honest.

What were the big frustrations that resonated with you?

Look if you bring 100 people in, you’ll get good results with the majority of them. You know, restore ROM, desensitise, they’ll improve. But when the tricky ones come in who get better but then 2 weeks later the pain comes back. I suppose a bit like myself in the athletics continually breaking down, I wanted a step by step system that I could use with those people to get them back to where they needed to be.

Definitely I think we all go through that when we start as therapists, where we’re almost saying things like “give me a ring if the pain comes back” or “try a run and see how it goes” but we’re not 100% sure ourselves if they’re going to be ready for it. It’s a bit of a guess. Having that system that gives you confidence they are ready separates you from the rest.

You’ve hit the nail on the head there. I use this system in a GAA club and the results are phenomenal. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some tricky cases there, but having the confidence to be able to take these players through a full plan of treatment to the point that they I can confidently discharge them is a massive help.

So having an assessment process and system is the real key?

Exactly, and I’ve realised it’s the questions you ask them as well. If you ask the right questions you get better feedback and when you combine that with the mentorship system then suddenly things start to make sense. In the tricky cases it might be session 3-4 when that answers comes to you but if you ask the right questions it always does.

Good stuff yeah. In my experience, and I’m sure you’d agree, having that system there almost guides you to ask the right questions too. Because if you find something during your assessment, and it doesn’t make sense in relation to the person’s story, then you have to find out why.

Exactly.

In your original application to join the mentorship and when you had that first 30 minute call with Dave, one of your big frustrations was spending up to 90 minutes sometimes with some clients – especially those in chronic pain. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Yeah, obviously with chronic pain it can be very complex. Before when I started I’d go through every single joint in detail and spend up to an hour on just the assessment, and I’d almost end up with too much information then and you don’t know where to start. I was feeling a bit bogged down with those complex ones – “am I missing a trick here?”

Since doing the mentorship I’ve got a lot slicker with my assessments. The big thing for me is when someone new comes in the first session nailing the subjective and objective assessments. Once you’ve nailed that down really well it gives you the clarity and confidence and you know where you’re going so it’s much easier now.

And what about your fears or doubts? Did you have any of those when you were going to sign up?

Ah look of course I did – like anything I think I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have doubts. I’m working in a full time capacity with the army, 2 young kids, setting up the clinic… There was a lot going on to be honest. But I said to myself if I want to give the clinic a really good go and build a word of mouth clinic I knew that the mentorship was the right thing to do.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and how much time I’d have to put into it. And then wondering if I’d actually understand what you’re talking about. But I have to say getting off the call with Dave (that was the big thing for me, having that call) when he broke it down I realised I’m going to be well able to do this. It’s like anything in life, I just needed to commit to it. So I signed up and I’ve never looked back since.

I think a lot of people will relate to that, you know, being busy and not sure if they’d have the time to commit. How did you find it when you first started?

I’m the kind of person where I’d have to go over things a few times to make it stick, but once it sticks then it’s in there. I looked over module one about 3 times because it was quite new material for me that hadn’t been covered in any other courses I’ve done before. I had decent hands on anyway but the assessments for me, I knew I’d have to practice those.

How quickly did you start to see results?

At the start obviously I doubted myself – am I interpreting this test correctly? But as time went on I started to get more confident with it. It’s really when I started getting good at relating the tests back to the person’s story and history that’s when I started to get the best results. That’s when the tests started to make sense and I knew where to go with my treatment plans.

Since you first started the mentorship what’s been the biggest success for you?

I’ve had a few to be honest with you. There’s one guy I’m working with who’s had his 8th knee operations and he’s never been rehabbed properly. He had another episode during the season and I was having that discussion with him and I said look we’re going to have to run through this correctly this time.

So we did, and I pulled him out of the sport and we ran through the full mentorship program with him and he’s now up to 3km running completely pain free for the first time in many many years which is a great results.

Nice, I think that’s a good point. You need to pull people out of the sport sometimes and to manage that you need the confidence in the system that you can tell them confidently that, look, if you take X amount of weeks out now we can have you back ready to train pain free next season. If you can get that buy in then you’ll get the result.

Definitely, I’m even getting text messages off him now and he’s saying he’s never been happier. He understands now. During the season I was telling him and he didn’t really listen to me, but then he got injured again and that’s what it took for him to take that step.

There’s another girl as well who had been around the houses a little bit. Torn hip flexor, she was a sprinter, and she got a lot of knee troubles coming back. She was quite down and lost a bit of hope.

I got a couple of wins with her in the first session making positive changes to the tests such as posterior knee and that got her complete buy-in straight away. Once we had that from the couple of early wins she was okay with taking the few sessions to get back as she was confident this was the right plan for her.

I think the key thing there is being honest with people and building trust. Tell them the plan from the start and then you can guide them.

Another guy that really sticks out is a guy that had a very similar situation to me where he had a lot of hip issues and ended up getting surgery. I got him back playing within 6 months after taking him through the system which was a great result. I got really relate to his story as this was very similar to what I was going through, but having the confidence and clarity to get him back playing I was delighted with that.

Good stuff. That’s what we’re all in the business for is getting those results. So what are your plans with the clinic for the next 12 months?

So I’ve kind of got to the stage that I’m pretty happy with my skill set, obviously I’ll always be learning more stuff, but in terms of where I want to go I suppose I’m looking at promoting the business a bit more, building the clinic, maybe bringing somebody else in. Only thing is if I bring somebody else in they’ll have to do the mentorship as they’d have to jump on board with that to keep the standards high! But I’d love to bring somebody in who’s enthusiastic and energetic and take it forwards.

Special Report Written By England Rugby League Physiotherapist Dave O’Sullivan…
“The 6 Step Checklist I Implemented From Pro Sport Into My Private Practice To Help You Keep Patients Adhered To The Treatment Plan So You Can Increase Your Results, Retention, Referrals & Reputation As The ‘Go-To’ Therapist"
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