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Osteopathy

Let us be realistic,
what patient could understand a definition of the word osteopathy written by an osteopath?

While I was studying osteopathy at Belmont-sur-Lausane, it took me nearly five years to approach the concept of this word even though there was a course teaching the importance of this notion. However, one of the red comments left by my director on my Master's thesis was crystal clear, I was far away from having understood the concept of osteopathy… In the French dictionary, the word « ostéopathie » is still defined by its primary meaning which is a set of bone pathologies ('os' meaning 'bone' in French). Secondly, we can read that it is a manual, therapeutic method which uses vertebral, muscular and visceral technics.

Common questions that I hear too often : « Do you give massages? » Sorry to disappoint you, but no, I do not.

« Is osteopathy only for bone problems ? ». From the public's point of view, it seems hard to avoid the influence of the suffix « pathos » in the definition of this therapy. For Claude Tinturier, osteopath D.O., osteopathy is a healing art and science, which considers the structural state and the mobility within as the most important simple factors to maintaining health and recovering from functional disorders. Probably not the easiest definition to follow for sombody who does not belong to the medical community. More simply, osteopathy is a really helpful way to alleviate body pains. It also helps people to regain balance in the day-to-day world we define as stressful.

«Why do some osteopaths use hard manipulations and others soft ones?»

It is true that not all the techniques can have positive effects on every single patient. My view is that every technique, soft or hard, has been proven to be efficient and no therapist should take a side and rely only on one osteopathic technique. It is essential to adapt treatment to the patient if we want to remain holistic and not to oblige the patient to adapt to our treatment.

When I listen to my patients, I « put their vertebra back into place », « move back their nerves inside their gains », « put in what was out ». Once, one of my patients thanked me for helping him to recover from a « pelvis luxation ». In reality, I listen to them, try to understand the origin of their pains, and then treat them with what I think of the most adapted techniques to help them to recover.

Osteopathy is not the right word to design a very efficient therapeutic method to treat functional disorders, but I am quite sure that no one understands what a functional disorder means…

Matthieu Steimer

A journey from Osteopathy to nutrition through teaching...

How can we possibly choose to become an osteopath?

The question is relevant ! I presume that what is important, is to believe in the treatment, but from a religious perspective, because osteopathy is not linked with faith.

My first contact with osteopathy was through a therapist in Lausanne. She healed my right knee, which did not cope well with the 12 hours of sports practice per week that I imposed on it. One true miracle ! No more pain after only 2 sessions. OK, miracle is probably not the right word if I want to avoid the religious dimension!

A good friend of mine started to study osteopathy in '99, and gave me more details about the profession and the studies. It seemed possible to learn this therapeutic technique and not far away from Morges. So, after many years in the school system where I had tried to graduate with difficulty from high school and after a few months in HEC Lausanne, everything became brighter in my mind. My path was almost visible in front of me. Studying became easier, I was in my element. The five years of the Master's passed very quickly.

When I was 24, one of our assistants asked me if I would be interested in teaching anatomy and physiology in a Shiatsu school in Geneva. I was clearly the youngest person inside the classroom. I had only 32 hours to make the future therapists understand how the body functions. In front of me were students of different ages and background but all with high expectations. That brought me to take this clear decision on the very first teaching day. I wanted to be a better teacher than all of the soporific ones that had put me off attending their lessons.

Finally, I graduated in 2005 and a few weeks later, it was time to deal with my first patients without any external help. My first one in Monthey suffered from intense lumbar back pain. I had to be proficient and professional, because no one would come and help me finish the treatment or even check it. It was my job as an osteopath that I had started those last days of October, I had to explore it and define it. The second patient had been stuck upside down in her car for a few hours after an accident … The treatment lasted three months.

The experience has continued since that beginning, but soon came the interrogation of my profession. Where is our real therapeutic effect? Why is there so much physical and psychological suffering?

Patients came and told their stories, with their own words. Every one of them was different, even if all their talk made me realise that they all had something in common: the word stress seemed to be hidden in most situations that lead to pain or any distress, in other words I noticed that most of the patients lacked the capacity to deal with internal or external changes! As soon as I noticed it, I tried to give an orientation to my treatment through osteopathic techniques or helpful advice. I believe that the purpose of every therapy is to help people to find solutions in their daily life and a balance to cope with the stress that appears along our way.

A humanitarian experience in 2008 at the National Rehabilitation Center in Vientiane, Laos PDR, gave me the opportunity to try osteopathy on different kinds of distress or affections. It was a very intense period of my life when I felt reborn. No justification was asked by the medical staff of the center. I taught some osteopathic techniques on the pelvic area to local physiotherapist so I hoped that my presence there would not be pointless and they would use some part of my course after my departure, debated diagnosis with the medical doctors, helped them in their surgeries... The work there was infinite, and related to the patients' suffering. I discovered another aspect of my job and an incredible one…

I came back to Switzerland in 2008, to start a new degree in pedagogy so as to teach to orthopedic technicians. My professional life is split between osteopathy and teaching courses. I made a few placements in different surgeries where I noticed every positive element of the place.

All this year, I have been wondering a lot about my future as a therapist . How can I make it evolve and in which direction? How can I help them to cope with their everyday stress? Am I also stressful?

A lot of reading gave me a possible hint… Nutrition as a basis for our wellness. So, I registered for a Certificate of Advanced Study at Lausanne University which started in Octobre 2011, corresponding to the same period of the beginning of the construction of Akajù Ostaopathy. The two projects were linked together and were achieved almost at the same time, in April 2012.

With time, I have understood why and how Osteopathy is an amazing profession. Probably, the real question that remains in my mind is how to become or stay a good therapist…

Julien Boillat

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