Manipulation of the Cervical Spine with Dr Stanley Paris

Dr Stanley ParisPhysical Therapy Continuing Education recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Dr Stanley Paris, one of the pioneers in the field of Manual Therapy in Physical Therapy/Physiotherapy.

Listen to excerpts from the interview:

Physical Therapy Continuing Education.Org: Well, thank you very much for agreeing to talk with me today and what I was hoping to do was tap your wisdom on manual therapy, particularly of the cervical spine. But before we dive into that I’d just love if you could share with us just some of the history of our profession.

Being one of the central figures for the development of manual therapy in physical therapy, could you tell us a little bit about the early days? For example, what sparked your interest in manual therapy and what prompted you to seek out the guidance of people such as Dr. James Cyriax and Freddy Kaltenborn and maybe mention your interaction with some of the other key figures such as Geoffrey Maitland, Robin McKenzie, Brian Mulligan, or any other people that you think were key who I haven’t mentioned.

Dr. Stanley Paris: Well, that would take all day but I’ll give you the brief one and please interrupt at any time.

Physical Therapy Continuing Education.Org: Okay. That sounds great.

Dr. Stanley Paris: My father was a physical therapist. In fact, he was the first male therapist in New Zealand. Those days it was a six month course to become a masseur and medical allotrician. That later became what we know today as physiotherapy or physical therapy.

He had his office, his rooms, at the front of the house and so he was treating patients there at our home. So, I grew up knowing physical therapy. Then my sister came down with polio and she required a lot of treatment over a number of years. Finished up having Harrington rods placed in her spine by Paul Harrington, so again, very much in our family was physical therapy.

I went into physical therapy because I didn’t know what else to do and you had to make a decision back then straight out of high school. My dad seemed to have a good style of life, he was respected, seemed to help people. I thought that would be okay.

It wasn’t long into my career, about six months, and I had entered the gymnasium where I was teaching a class of about 12 people with back pain. A lot of therapy in those days was done in classes. I asked this man to put his right leg over his left leg and he couldn’t do it so I gave him a shove and his back cracked and he was frightened, I was frightened, and I got disciplined. That was on a Friday.

On Monday, he didn’t show up for classes and I was frightened that I really had caused him some harm. He walks in later, shakes my hand, and thanks me for helping him significantly.

So, I then discussed this with my father and my father said, “Well, that’s what manipulation is and that’s what you did to him.” I said, “Well, where can I learn that?” He said, “Well, you won’t in physical therapy school.” I said, “Well, who does these?” He said, “Chiropractors.” And they’re my biggest competition. So, I then said, “Well, maybe I want to be a chiropractor.” And he said, “No. Come and look at these books.” And on the shelf he had books by Cyriax and Mennell.

I looked at those books and I started reading and after about a month he said, “Are you really seriously interested in this work?” I said, “Yes. We need this in physical therapy.” He said, “Okay. When you get through school I’ll send you to England and do things like that and you’ll be able to teach this when you come back.” That’s how it started.

To learn more about the Physical Therapy Continuing Education opportunities offered by Dr Paris and the University of St Augustine click here.

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