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Moving from Patient Care to Caring for Patients

Mental health is often an overlooked part of healthcare, stigmatized and traditionally viewed as a moral failing.  As a result, patients tend to wear physical pain as a badge of honor and mental pain as a mark of shame.  These practices are damaging to the patient, inherently pass responsibility and limit our recognition as holistic providers.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month which provides an excellent opportunity to face this growing issue head on.  Without a doubt, COVID-19 will increase the number patients and providers facing mental health challenges.  Pandemic policies and fear of what may be as well as the stark reality of losing loved ones must be recognized as a mental health strain.  In fact, we have all lost in some way and must therefore process grief.  Leaning on our strengths to address mental health illness is a responsibility we must all assume.

Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy inherently validates patient perspectives and utilizes pain as a guiding tool for clinical decisions.  Merskey and Bogduk (1994) define pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms such as damage.  When we recognize pain as a measure of suffering, we clarify the impact MDT has in validating patient concerns and managing mental health disease (Kolski & O’Conner, 2015).  These two processes are fundamental to managing pain.  Recent research indicates low back pain levels are significantly reduced through history taking alone (Louw et. al 2020).  Listening beyond hearing is fundamental to person-centered care and pain management.  In fact, listening is a skill valued in MDT so much so, clinicians are asked to translate symptomatic behavior into mechanical behavior.  Listening and a strong history enhance the value of targeted mechanical questions and for those patients who have non-organic pain, it is a primary intervention. 

David Ruiz, PhD, ATC, Cert. MDT was one of 10 athletic trainers credentialed in MDT.  He was poised to help bring MDT to the athletic training profession and help lead the way for MDT in professional sports.  Unfortunately, he lost his battle to mental health disease in 2019.  David was a strong MDT advocate, often volunteered to assist the Institute and was offered a liaison position between National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the North American Spine Society that would have started in late 2019.  An excellent eulogy by his employer, the University of Mount Union, shared a message that David left, “You can be loved and still feel alone.  You can love and still feel alone.”

“The patient has the answer.”
Robin McKenzie

David Gallegos, MA, ATC, Cert. MDT
[email protected]
FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers

Andy Krentz, MA, ATC, Cert. MDT
[email protected]

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