How To Design Great Treatment Plans Using The Cockpit Analogy

In this video I’d like to introduce you to Karl Morris, a top mind that I had the pleasure of working with at Huddersfield Giants. Karl told me a really interesting story that resonated with me a few years ago and I’d like to share it with you today. Here is how the ‘Cockpit Analogy’ can help you design better treatment plans…

The Cockpit Analogy

As Karl explained to me, he was reading a book called ‘The End of Average’ by Todd Rose. At the beginning of the book Rose tells a remarkable story from the US Airforce in the 1940s.

At the time, technology was coming on leaps and bounds, planes were getting faster and more reliable but the US Air Force were having large amounts of non-combat disasters. Planes would crash at take off, landing and unexpectedly. So the US Air Force invested time and effort into trying to solve the riddle and find out why.

In the end it was Gilbert S. Daniel came up with a solution…

The Flaw Of Averages

Daniels decided to take a closer look at the cockpit and ask if the space had anything to do with these accidents.

Until then the cockpit design had remained unchanged since the 1920s. Originally it had been designed and built around the average dimensions of a pilot. 10 dimensions were used, from arm length to leg length…

Deniels decided to test a cross-section of pilots, around 4000, to see if the dimensions they were using building the cockpit were accurate.

In the end Daniels came up with a number. Not one single airman matched the dimensions they were using.

So Daniels revolutionised the cockpit design. After his research they made key parts of the cockpit adjustable. Each pilot could make their cockpit unique to them and their body shape…

What Does This Mean For A Physiotherapist?

This is a great metaphor for everything we do in professional sport and private practice.

When a patient comes to you with knee pain, you don’t just have a generic knee and a generic treatment. What you have is a unique human being. Unless we do our best to find out about that human being and their story then we are putting them in a cockpit that won’t fit…

How To Apply This In The Real World

The story and comparison struck me as very powerful… but we have to establish how we can apply this in the real world.

We have all been guilty of having two or three treatments for knee pain that we recycle every time. But this story tells us that we can’t and we shouldn’t. We need to take a step back and understand the person in front of us. We need to adjust our exercises just like they did with the cockpit.

Coaching Six Golf Major Winners

Amongst so many others, Karl has coached six golf major winners, which is why this story was so powerful for me. When Karl heard this story, it clicked… He knew he could make the principles that Gilbert Daniels came up with, work for him.

He explained that it isn’t easy to truly understand someone’s story and the way they work but all you have to do is dig a little deeper and ask the right questions.

Final Thoughts

Are you guilty of using ‘one size fits all’ treatment? Most people are, but next time you sit down with a patient or to design a treatment plan… remember the cockpit analogy and make sure you’re doing the right thing for the right person.

Click here for more from Karl Morris and myself on the subjective assessment and how to identify your patient’s needs.

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