fbpx

Testimonials & Endorsements

Integrative Care as the New Gold Standard in Physical & Occupational Therapy

Integrative Care as the New Gold Standard in Physical & Occupational Therapy

A look inside biopsychosocial care using comprehensive functional, integrative, and lifestyle medicine.

By Dr. Ginger Garner PT, DPT, ATC/L

Functional, integrative and lifestyle medicine (FILM) is fast becoming the gold standard for effective care in PT and OT. Expanding your professional toolbox to include these methods is critical when addressing the growing epidemic of co-and-multimorbidity in the U.S. population.

Chronic Disease has Reached a Tipping Point.

Chronic disease in the US has reached a tipping point.  According to the CDC, chronic conditions are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. They are the leading drivers for the nation’s 4.1 trillion in annual health care costs.

 The statistics are shocking:  

  • 81% of hospital admissions, 
  • 91% of all prescriptions filled, and
  • 76% of all physician visits are attributed to chronic disease management.1

Insurance spending for gastrointestinal disorders increased from $20 billion in 2004 to $135.9 billion in 20152

It is estimated that somewhere between 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.3 Lack of sleep increases the risk of accidents as well as chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and pain.  

By failing to address the intersection of chronic illness and rehab science, we diminish the possibility for effective and lasting outcomes. Moving beyond traditional movement interventions alone is necessary to remain relevant.

While the concept of whole-person care is not new, there has been a reluctance to incorporate even evidence-based interventions by the traditional medical establishment.

But that is changing. The movement toward therapists embracing the frontline role of primary practitioner has already begun. The APTA states, “Physical therapists play a unique role in society in prevention, wellness, fitness, health promotion, and management of disease and disability by serving as a dynamic bridge between health and health services delivery for individuals and populations.”

The AOTA has similarly long supported the evidence-based “gold standard” biopsychosocial model of delivery. 


Are You Addressing Whole-Person Health in your Practice?

We can effectively break the loop of chronic disease in this country by embracing whole-patient care.

In my clinic, we treat chronic joint pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and hip pain using Functional, Integrative, & Lifestyle Medicine methods using a private pay model. We use the following tools to identify and address the unique root cause of each person’s pain or disease:

  • Stress management and mindfulness training
  • Physical activity prescription across the lifespan
  • Health and wellness coaching 
  • Diet and nutritional counseling 
  • Sleep and relaxation training 
  • Tobacco cessation and substance abuse screening and counseling 
  • Identifying environmental contributors, such as commonly known endocrine disruptors and pollutants 

Many physical and occupational therapists struggle with how to implement FILM treatment modalities in a time efficient manner, especially in non-supportive traditional settings.

Once you understand the why and how (evidence-based) of integrative methods, even small changes such as deep listening and assessing readiness to change can make a huge difference in patient outcomes and satisfaction.

I treat patients in fewer total visits overall while achieving better outcomes with longer lasting results. This ends up saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars for each patient.


Staying Focused with FILM

When it comes to efficiency, my patients help me stay focused.  For example, I had a patient fly from Hawaii to see me in NC for intensive integrative physical therapy for her hip pain. Talk about the need to be dialed in and ready to go!

Understanding how to manage your time properly to be completely present with this patient & listen to her challenges, while observing her movement impairments, past medical history, and current lifestyle in an effective manner is critical. In these situations, every second counts when you need to make significant, objective gains quickly. 


When happy patients visit and bring gifts!

Flash forward less than a year later, and she just completed her first half marathon! The Functional/ ILM approach is the key to her success. It works because I’m looking for the root cause, not just simply prescribing physical therapy exercise for movement, only

Our Functional/ ILM approach put her back in the race!

I have been practicing using variations of FILM for 25 years.  The field of PT is always changing and expanding and so is FILM which continues to inspire and motivate me year after year. 

Our methods encourage increased patient ownership in rehab and significantly lowers the burden of care, which is a leading cause of clinician burnout.  Without FILM, my patients would still feel lost in the system without relief and I’m not sure I would still be a PT.

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

There are lots of options when it comes to expanding your toolbox.  I recommend doing your own research to find the program matches your core values. For me, lifelong is essential. l am so honored to have taught all ages from around the world. I firmly believe that it’s never too late to have a satisfying career.  American poet, Mary Oliver, sums it up best, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”


Dr. Ginger Garner, DPT
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Garner is a passionate, unapologetic advocate of improving access to pelvic physical therapy, a mother to 3 sons, & a 25+ year veteran in Functional, Integrative, & Lifestyle Medicine-based physical therapy. She is the author of Medical Therapeutic Yoga, Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine in PT, founder & CEO of Living Well Institute, owner of Garner Pelvic Health, and loves making music and adventure seeking outdoors as often as possible.

Resources

(1) Anderson G, and Horvath , May 2004

(2) Peery et al, 2012, 2019 AHRQ 2006, Jones 2007

(3) Harvey R Colten, Bruce M Altevogt, NHLBI, 2003

Sue Berres, OTR/L, PYT

Sue Berres, OTR/L, PYT

“I came to the Medical Therapeutic Yoga program as very yoga-curious, but perhaps also a little yoga-skeptical. A colleague had been through the program and she raved about it and used yoga in some way in nearly every session, so there was clearly something there, but I wasn’t sure what. I’ve never been one to let other people know something I don’t, so I took the leap.

And, well, now I get it.

Ginger has managed to combine the medical science that I know and love with the science of yoga in a way that was sensible, practical and compelling. Bringing in elements of functional medicine and integrated lifestyle medicine cinched the deal.

MTY makes sense. It works. It is something I can integrate into my treatment with just about everybody in my pediatric outpatient practice in one way or another.”

Sue Berres, OTR/L, PYT

Dr. Leigh Sato, PT, DPT, NCS, MSCS

Dr. Leigh Sato, PT, DPT, NCS, MSCS

“Thank you so much for creating an amazingly comprehensive and intelligent body of work! I feel I have only a dipped a toe in but have already started applying the FMA to some select patients. I am so excited to move into this work more and find it hugely relevant to those of us who are in the last half of our lives.

Bravo Ginger for the work you have created and the vast amount of work you are doing to launch a saner approach to therapy.”

Dr. Leigh Sato, PT, DPT, NCS, MSCS
UVA Physical and Occupational Therapy
Charlottesville, VA

Dr. Katie Goroncy, PT, DPT

Dr. Katie Goroncy, PT, DPT

“Ginger’s program has restored my love and perspective that physical therapy is a healing ART. I had been feeling uninspired, deflated by the obstacles in the healthcare/insurance system, and was losing sight of what drew me to the healthcare field in the first place. It gave me a solid evidence based framework from which to integrate “whole person”, yogic, lifestyle medicine into my physical therapy foundation.

It has since sparked joy, creativity, and a broader perspective into my clinical practice.”

Dr. Katie Goroncy, PT, DPT

Kjirsten Winters, OTR/L

Kjirsten Winters, OTR/L

“Thank you for creating ALL of this amazing material, the Integrative Lifestyle Medicine & Medical Therapeutic Yoga programs, and for compiling the vast amounts of research and information for our fields in PT and OT — and for heath care people overall!”

Kjirsten Winters, OTR/L

Paige Raffo, PT, MPT, PYT

Paige Raffo, PT, MPT, PYT

“This program has been an absolutely life changing experience for me. Initially, I was drawn to the program in hopes of gaining more knowledge on how to manage clients, particularly the chronic pain population, in a more holistic manner. The concepts made sense to me and reinforced my current approach. Also, I wanted to be more precise in my use of yoga postures therapeutically. All of these superficial goals were achieved after the first onsite module, then it evolved into something much more. It cracked me open, but lead to self-realization and healing that I needed.”

Paige Raffo, PT, MPT, PYT
Seattle, WA

Dr. Becca Ellis, PT, DPT, PYT

Dr. Becca Ellis, PT, DPT, PYT

“Ginger,

I just wanted to thank you for all you have done for me and let you know just how impactful you have been on my life. The past 5 years have been some of the best and most stressed I have ever experienced. Because of you and the lessons learned at LWI, I feel totally prepared for it all. I am practicing therapy the way patients deserve. I am happy working and the community loves MTY!”

Dr. Becca Ellis, PT, DPT, PYT
Restorative Therapy Co.
Virginia Beach, VA

Dr. Amanda Wold, PT, DPT

Dr. Amanda Wold, PT, DPT

“This is what I’ve been searching for since I got out of school 8 years ago. I have peace about where I’m going. It’s not stressful like all those other CE courses I thought I “had” to go to.

This is truly the best clarity I have had since graduating – I’m becoming the holistic physical therapist that I want to be – to take me through an exciting and successful career! I have taken continuing education like yoga for rehabilitation, nutrition in physical therapy, chronic pain management, etc. but NOTHING has put it all together and gone above and beyond like the Integrative Lifestyle Medicine program!

I wish I found it sooner – this is how people WANT to be cared for!”

Dr. Amanda Wold, PT, DPT

Dr. Sylvie Le, DPT on the Functional Movement Algorithm

Dr. Sylvie Le, DPT on the Functional Movement Algorithm

MTY uses a standardized way to assess and treat an individual through a plan of care using a Functional Movement Algorithm (FMA). The method provides a step-by-step checklist to ensure safe alignment, adequate breathing, and appropriate nervous system responses through a developmental movement sequence. Distinct observations of a person’s neurophysiological reactions to movement and their environment, as supported by emerging neuroscience, is considered throughout to support a balanced mind-body connection and state. The FMA is a unique key evaluative tool of MTY, which I use as a gauge in both private practice and group classes.

What has become apparent to me is that in this industrialized, consumer-driven, highly stressed society, it is imperative for clinicians to simultaneously attend to the biological, psychological, and social dimensions of illness in order to best serve their patients.4 Medical Therapeutic Yoga provides a complementary holistic alternative to the existing biomedical model with use of a biopsychosocial approach. This holistic yogic lens is a revolutionary way of understanding how a person’s subjective experience, lifestyle, and personal circumstances serve as essential contributors to accurate diagnosis, treatment decisions, and health outcomes.

Dr. Sylvie Le, DPT
Dr. Kassandra Prutsman PT, DPT

Dr. Kassandra Prutsman PT, DPT

MTY has completely changed the foundation of my practice for the better. This is especially true since a large majority of the clients that come in through my clinic door fall within the medical category of high complexity. I see patients in a small, rural area of NC. On a typical day over half of my evaluations involve complex chronic pain diagnoses with chronic low back pain taking the lead. The rates at which those individuals suffer from chronic use of opioids is always astronomical as well. After seeing this population for about 2 years, it became clear that our standardized approach as physical therapists was not effective in influencing this patient population in a successful way.

MTY provided me with the framework for discussing (Lifestyle Medicine) – the difficult and vague topics of depression, anxiety, stress, nutrition, and sleep quality, which were constantly influencing my patient outcomes. I could better understand when to refer patients and had a finer way of educating them on what encompassed good lifestyle habits. Since implementing MTY, I have noticed a significant shift in my ability to deliver care that is more effective and capable of providing a whole person approach. It has set the stage for much more successful outcomes with my patients across the board. The MTY method is proof that providing care in underserved populations with access to very little resources can still produce positive outcomes.

Dr. Kassandra Prutsman, PT, DPT
Dr. Alicia Hedges, PT, DPT

Dr. Alicia Hedges, PT, DPT

Medical Therapeutic Yoga has been an invaluable piece of my life – both professionally and personally. Finding safe community while learning to use my voice in a powerful way has probably been the most valuable thing I have learned through this training.

Dr. Alicia Hedges, PT, DPT
Joy McKinney PT

Joy McKinney PT

I’ve come to believe that most powerful aspect of yoga that I can impart to my patients is dhyana, or meditation. Countless studies affirm the benefits across a range of body systems, but the most immediate for my needs is helping people address pain.

Joy McKinney PT
Kanchan Thakar, PT

Kanchan Thakar, PT

Partnership with Yoga in PT is a sustainable and cost effective way to deliver evidence based compassionate care. Not only has it helped my patients to feel empowered for self care, it has also infused new found enthusiasm in my PT practice, which is sustainable for my wellbeing too.

Kanchan Thakar, PT
Janelle Perfetto, PT

Janelle Perfetto, PT

Medical Therapeutic Yoga is also beneficial for the physical therapist. This methodology teaches the patient how to heal all aspects of their wellbeing and utilizes a team approach to care, thereby decreasing the pressure of the therapist to “fix” the patient. MTY has helped me tremendously to better handle stressful situations and has actually helped with my perception of stress. 

I truly believe this methodology can change healthcare and the lives of healthcare providers by decreasing burnout! Thank you so much Ginger for creating this wonderful program!

Janelle Perfetto, PT
Brandis Gunderson, PT

Brandis Gunderson, PT

I use MTY with every patient, regardless of if they are 80 with chronic pain, an acute shoulder, or someone in an MVA with whiplash injury. The majority of these patients all have 2 things in common: pain & response to pain.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, “PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.” We often think of treatment techniques as being exercise, but we now know that treatment is so much more than that. It is the inclusion of pain management, nutrition, looking at the patients’ well-being…All of these are inclusive of the Biopsychosocial Model in MTY.

Brandis Gunderson, PT

Browse the Living Well Blog

Pin It on Pinterest