Clinician Chat: A Different Point of View

Published by Shauna Burchett, OTR/L on

Q: You’ve mentioned that your treatment perspective is little different than some providers, can you explain how your point of view differs?

Synergy Therapist: Simply put, I look at the body as a whole. Instead of focusing on the area in pain I look at how the body moves. Is it balanced? Where are the restrictions in the movement? Are there posture problems which would affect other parts of the body? This is different because traditionally, providers only look at the affected area. That means that the underlying issues (see picture of the out-of-whack skeleton) may not be addressed.

pelvic tilt
Classic example: you come in with shoulder pain. Unless your underlying postural issues are addressed, the shoulder pain may come back.

Q: Let’s just say a person came to you with shoulder pain, how would you start your evaluation?

Synergy Therapist: First, I look at three basic things: how the person sits, stands and walks. Most people don’t know that you should sit the way you stand – with a natural “S” curve to your back. If you sit incorrectly (see picture of cute kid below), your body will have to compensate in other areas, which will eventually affect the way you stand and walk. In a standing position, I can assess the symmetry of the body and trace patterns of dysfunction. Walking provides me insight into how the body moves against gravity. After all, the body is designed to move – so why not look at what it’s supposed to be doing?

Q: Why do you think this perspective is so rare?

Poor posture puts your spine into a “C” shape, instead of the naturally stronger “S” shape.

Synergy Therapist: People learn by comparing new information to things they’ve already learned. Sometimes the things we see don’t fit into the box and then we’re faced with a choice. Do we discard it as being impossible or do we take the chance and try to learn something new? Most past medical studies were done on cadavers, which is great for a start but it has a flaw… cadavers don’t move! Fortunately, there is research being done that focuses on how the body moves with living people. I am continually learning from the people I treat and from the research of others. The body is amazing and our understanding of it has just begun!

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L is a skilled occupational therapist and the owner of Synergy Healthcare. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 1993 with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Shauna began her career as an occupational therapist specializing in traumatic head injuries. She has also worked in skilled nursing facilities specializing in long and short term geriatric rehabilitation. Shauna has been in private practice since 1998.