Why do you practice Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT)?
Lisa: Throughout my physical therapy career, I have always been looking for answers. Back in physical therapy school, it seemed that we were being taught how to make patients accept the health challenges they were facing, rather than being taught how to fix their health challenges. Although I appreciated the training I received in physical therapy school, I left feeling that there was so much more we could do for patients. I had friends who were training in other health professions and I knew that there was more information to be learned. As soon as I was out of school, I started taking as many classes as I could in order to find the answers I was looking for.
Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) is a combination of thousands of techniques and represents a huge step forward in manual therapy care. Often, when receiving treatment, patients want to know exactly what I am doing and why, and IMT gives me the ability to answer those questions.
How long have you been a physical therapist?
Lisa: I’ve been a physical therapist since 1995. After I graduated from physical therapy school, I became dissatisfied with the methods I had been taught. I wanted a deeper, more comprehensive way of treating patients. Most physical therapy focuses on restoring function to an area without addressing why there are issues in the first place. I wanted a therapy that would look for the why and address the root causes of the problems. In 1997, I discovered Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT), and I was really impressed with the results I saw from the treatment. I became a certified IMT practitioner in 2002 and I opened the CenterIMT office in DC as a satellite of the Institute for Integrative Manual Therapy in Connecticut. Five years later, I started Total Health Physical Therapy in Washington, D.C. I’ve also taught IMT classes throughout the US, Israel, Hong Kong, and Chile, and I was the founding President of the Board of The Integrative Manual Therapy Association.
What training did you need for IMT?
Lisa: IMT is a very sophisticated treatment method and it requires a great deal of training. The basic IMT credential program (through the Institute for IMT in Connecticut) requires 32 classes and I estimate that I’ve taken closer to 100 classes of IMT training. During my training, I was lucky to be mentored by Sharon Giammatteo, founder of the treatment. My background is in traditional physical therapy and I worked in practically every traditional PT setting before I chose to specialize in IMT. This background gave me a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology.
How does IMT work, exactly?
Lisa: IMT focuses on removing mechanical strains from every tissue, in order to get the body working the right way. The philosophy behind IMT is that your body works correctly unless something happens to damage it — something that keeps it from working properly. Function follows structure. Behind every problem in the body, there has to be a mechanical or anatomical issue. IMT looks at the deeper structure of the body – organs, vasculature, and fascia in addition to muscle, nerve, and bone – to find the mechanical issue, the why of the problem.
IMT uses manual therapy to remove the strain accumulated from past injury, infection, and inflammation. There are over 20,000 techniques in IMT — one for every system in your body. As IMT practitioners, we are trained to use our hands to feel what’s happening in the fascia and determine what the problem is. Human hands are extremely sensitive and when they’ve been trained, they become phenomenal diagnostic and treatment tools. With IMT, we discover the root of the patient’s problem and treat the cause, not the symptom. Techniques are really gentle and fix the issue without causing more trauma. We can make a permanent change in someone’s health by fixing old trauma.
What kinds of patients do you work with?
Lisa: My patients are people who are seeking an alternative to traditional physical therapy and are looking for a progressive, full-body approach to care. We also treat people who have tried everything else and are desperate for relief. Since IMT treats all tissues in the body, our treatment goes beyond typical physical therapy services. We treat injuries and trauma, neurological disorders, and a host of other issues. Our patients are open to the idea that our treatment can help them with many types of issues.
How much does this cost?
Lisa: My sessions cost $180 per 55 minute treatment hour; sessions with my team are $160 per 55 minute treatment hour. Every session is different, since it is entirely dependent on the needs of each client. While we don’t take insurance, we have someone on-site who can submit to insurance companies to help our patients get reimbursed.
What can I expect if we work together?
Lisa: If we work together, you can expect that our total focus will be on you and your needs. Every treatment is different because every client is different. We will delve into the root of the problem and we care enough to ask the right questions (and lots of them). Since IMT is based on carefully tailoring treatment to each patient, we are the very definition of personalized care.
How do we get started?
Lisa: We start by asking each patient to fill out a detailed medical history form prior to our first session. The form provides insight so we can better determine what past medical issue might be causing the present problem and how best to approach treating and healing each patient. On the first visit, I review the form with my patient, discuss what he/she wants to work on, and then begin treatment immediately, since a good part of my work is hands-on diagnosis.
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