Precision Physical Therapy - Press Releases

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"The Pain Game"

From Rocky Mountain Sports, May 2004


For physical therapist, Ernie Quinlisk, it's about making things as simple as possible and he carries this philosophy into treating patients. That's why he's begun to incorporate a new treatment with his more traditional therapy called Primal Reflex Release Technique.

Developed by John lams, a physical therapist in California, the technique is based on two primal reflexes in humans: startle reflex and withdrawal. A treatment begins with a quick exam from top to bottom to see how a patient's reflexes react. If there's a problem or pain, typically a patient will jump/withdraw, and this will help a PT identify problem areas.

As Quinlisk explains, some people have an overexcited startle reflex so they're constantly in a low-level "fight or flight" mode, creating an "up-regulated" autonomic nervous system.

People in these modes are easily startled and easily withdraw when touched in a spot that is problematic but may or may not be painful to them, per se. Quinlisk says that when a person's autonomic nervous system is fired up, it can actually hide pain until the system is calmed down. That's where the Primal Reflex Release Technique comes in to find what's hidden.

Once a problem(s) is identified. Quinlisk works with opposing muscles to actually get to the problem spot. He compares it to being tapped on the knee with a reflex hammer. When a knee is tapped, a message goes through the spinal cord to the brain and tells the muscle to contract while the opposing muscle relaxes and the leg kicks out. So if a problem muscle is acting up, if the opposing muscle is activated, the problem one relaxes and, hopefully, the pain goes away.

According to Quinlisk, with this treatment, a patient should feel better within four to five visits if his or her pain is reflex related. If it's not, then Quinlisk will use more traditional physical therapy treatments. The nice thing about this reflex treatment is that it will fail fast if it's not the answer to a patients pain." notes Quinlisk. "And that can save a patient a lot of time and money."