Last week I had a surprise at physical therapy. There was a German neuro-therapist visiting and training. If I had to sum up the difference between European and American physical therapy, it would be this: European therapy is much more touchy-feely, while the American approach seems to be more akin to basketball practice—throwing balls, using a work-out machine…etc… It was when Matthias asked me to lie “supine” that I knew things were going to go differently. Supine? I have a big vocabulary, but the biology talk left me flummoxed. (My German and Chilean therapists’ attempts at using English to converse were a little funny—luckily they had the language of science to fall back on) Anyway, I crawled onto a big padded table and guessed that he wanted me on my back. I was right.
He and my regular therapist, who I would judge to be quite European in her approach anyway, got on the table with me—one on either side. (I am fairly certain that my therapy sessions are odder than most). They proceeded to use pressure points, prodding me in key spots (apparently), and helping me to lift my limbs in the most peculiar ways. It was like “supine” miming. Pretty soon I lay frozen in the oddest position: one leg bent up in the air, the toe pointed toward my upper body, an arm bent out to the side with fingers extended, the other bent differently in toward my hip, my head looking in the opposite direction. Yes, the European style is very close quarters. I think there were around three “boob grazes” and Matthias kept using a pressure point on my upper gluteus maximum, and another on my outer pelvis. He kept using broad sweeping arm movements to explain what he was doing, waving his fingers around about an inch above me in undulations and eddies. I could tell he was frustrated that my loose T-shirt kept getting in the way. Maria told me later that most of the time his patients in Germany would be nearly nude.
It was odd, but in no way invasive. I think that my experiences with childbirth first, second my week-long stay in the neuro-unit, and third having to shower with another person standing next to me for the first three weeks after surgery all contributed to my laissez-faire (literally: let things alone, let them pass—nothing to do with economics here) attitude toward my body. It was actually quite relaxing. At the end, I felt 3 inches taller and at least 10 pounds lighter. Re-sult! Not bad for lying supine for 45 minutes.