FMT History & Evolution
If you Google "Manual Therapy" you will find an endless list of clinics, practitioners, professional publications, and yes, even national and international organizations dedicated to the practice of and advancement of Manual Therapy. This recognized form of Physical Therapy is primarily used to identify Physical Therapists who utilize Joint Mobilization as a primary modality of treatment. The founders of Functional Manual Therapy™, Gregory S. Johnson, PT, FFFMT, FAAOMPT and Vicky Saliba Johnson, PT, FFFMT, FAAOMPT, trained in the 1970's with some of the top "Manual Therapists" in the world and learned how important the treatment of joints was to the recovery from injury or pain.
So Why "Functional" Manual Therapy™ (FMT)?
To better understand why the founders of FMT chose to delineate their system from standard Manual Therapy, it might help to understand their professional journey and the development of this system of patient care that is changing the lives of patients world-wide.
Both Gregg and Vicky began their professional career in a world renowned rehabilitation center, primarily working with patients who had suffered from neurological impairments such as strokes, MS, Parkinson’s, spinal cord and head injuries, and a variety of less known pathologies. For Gregg and Vicky, their daily goals were to get patients just moving and re-learning how to do the most fundamental activities such as sitting and walking. But they did not use machines or modalities to improve their patient’s function, they used their hands and an advanced method of neuromuscular facilitation known as PNF. It was this early use of their hands to feel what the body was doing and know how to facilitate the body to move efficiently that set the foundation for what would become Functional Manual Therapy™.
In the mid to late 70’s, their practice shifted more to individuals with pain, injuries, and those who just wanted to run the 800 meter faster in the Corporate Cup. But instead of focusing on the elimination of pain or helping patients heal from an injury or surgery, Gregg and Vicky found themselves applying the same “function based” approach they had used in the rehabilitation center to individuals with orthopedic and sports issues. When an elite runner would come into their Marin CA clinic with a hamstring tear, they would assess the runner’s ability to roll, walk, and run as well as treat the hamstring. The result, the hamstring tear would heal but the patient would be running the 800 faster than before his injury. As their understanding of the interconnectedness of the human body developed, their expectations for patients’ outcomes continued to evolve. No longer were they willing to just have a patient feel better, they wanted every patient to experience his or her untapped existing potential for function. This expectation inspired them to leave no tissue untouched that may have an impact on function. They studied and explored the human body to better understand how small injuries or inefficient postures and movements could disrupt the homeostasis of the musculoskeletal system and slowly create compensations throughout one’s body. Gregg and Vicky recognized that Physical Therapists had the education and passion to impact patient’s lives on a whole different level by treating the whole body, regardless of the presenting diagnosis or symptoms.
Primary Systems of the Body Required for Physical Function
From the mid-1970’s, Gregg and Vicky determined to develop a treatment system that would train physical therapists to observe the human body as an interconnected system. Over the years they developed and perfected the skills necessary to effectively treat and restore efficiency to the three primary systems of the body required for physical function:
- The mechanical system,
- The neuromuscular system, and
- The motor control system (how the brain controls every movement and posture you perform).
This system, Functional Manual Therapy™, is what sets IPA Manhattan Physical Therapy apart and offers you, our patient, a comprehensive whole body assessment and a personalized plan to accomplish your goals for more efficient function.