Unique technique: Physical therapist Ray brings Graston to Northern Michigan
HARBOR SPRINGS — Amy Ray joined Tim Bondy Physical Therapy Aquatic Therapy and Wellness Center in Harbor Springs back in March.
An Indianapolis, Indiana, native, Ray — who has been practicing for 17 years — also brought a unique method of manual therapy and soft tissue mobilization with her to Northern Michigan.
Ray is certified as a Graston Technique therapist and has practiced the method for close to two decades.
“Down in Indy (Indianapolis), it was common for doctors to prescribe Graston because it works so well,” Ray said. “You can really use it on anyone. It’s neat to do it on people who’ve had therapy, but have never had this performed.”
Graston Technique is an advanced form of instrument-assisted, soft tissue mobilization which incorporates the use of six specific designed stainless steel instruments. The therapy enables clinicians to effectively treat the adverse effects of scar tissue and fascial restrictions as well as improve and maintain optimal range of motion.
The technique is one of a number of manual therapy approaches that uses instruments with a specialized form of massage in which the therapist scrapes the skin gently.
The method has been effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical pain, de Quervian’s syndrome, epicondylosis, fibromyalgia, IT band syndrome or joint sprains.
Specialty-trained clinicians such as Ray who obtain accreditation in the Graston Technique apply the technique to treat patients with lower back pain, muscle strains, painful scars, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis or post-fracture pain.
“It’s great for people that have been suffering from chronic pain,” Ray said. “I’ve had people who travel here from Florida and stay here in the summer who’ve looked me up on the provider line. They’ve had it performed elsewhere and found me.
Ray said when she worked in a hospital setting in Indianapolis, her employer really believed in Graston Technique and required each clinician to be trained and certified.
“It was part of your training,” Ray said. “You spent a week working with the tools, it took an entire weekend and a lot of working on each other, then you’re certified to use it.”
As a therapist who performs more manual therapy, Ray said Graston Technique has further lengthened her career.
“I don’t have to use a lot of pressure I would typically use with my hands or fingers, and it’s allowed me to continue to practice manual therapy,” Ray said.
Ray noted the biggest benefit of the technique would be someone who suffers from tendonitis from say a rotator cuff injury or plantar fasciitis.
“It’s great for any type of inflammation or chronic scar tissue that’s laid down or for an injury that hasn’t gotten better,” Ray said. “Until you break up that tissue, healing won’t occur.
“By stimulating that muscle, to break up scar tissue, healing starts again,” Ray said. “Even if you’ve had elbow pain for five years, foot pain for four years of back pain for three years, people still respond.”
Dean Bonesteel of Harbor Springs has been a patient of Ray’s for several months because of a rotator cuff injury and has noticed a significant increase in range of motion because of the technique.
“I had never heard about it (Graston Technique) until I ran into Amy at a chamber meeting,” Bonesteel said. “We met at Tim Bondy’s and when everybody went around and mentioned what they did, Amy mentioned she worked at Tim Bondy’s, had just moved to the area from Indiana with her family and she used specialty tools they tend to not use much up here, but had great success with her own company in Indiana with them.
“I knew I had to have therapy when I was listening to this,” Bonesteel added. “I knew I wanted to sign up. I couldn’t lift my arm above my head. She put me on an exercise and stretching regimen I’ve been on for a couple of months and started three days a week, then went down to two and one.”
Bonesteel said the Graston Technique used in conjunction with exercise and stretching has worked tremendously.
“Amy is very nice and was very compassionate to my injury,” Bonesteel said. “She’s very focused and professional in setting a regimen and staying focused on that.”
Another one of Ray’s patients, Mary Ellen Stroh of Lima, Ohio, who summers in Northern Michigan, said following five years of trying two physical therapy programs, a trainer and two massage therapists, she blindly stumbled into Tim Bondy’s office one day.
“We were in Michigan for the summer, what did I have to lose?” Stroh said. “The chronic pain and neuropathy following shoulder surgery had taken me to a low level of energy and hope.”
Stroh mentioned she grimaced at another thought of physical therapy, but in the discussion Graston caught her attention.
“Whatever was that,” Stroh said. “Two summers later, with a few runs from Ohio for additional appointments, my shoulder pain is gone. The staff at Tim Bondy and Graston will always be credited for launching me out of my valley and into the real world of painless activity again.
“Today they remain encrypted in my gratitude journal.”
For more information regarding Graston Technique, call Tim Bondy Physical Therapy, (231) 242-0791.
Follow Steve Foley on Twitter @SteveFoley8.