Barrett Dorko – What Makes Me Different


The Physical Therapy Web is pleased to feature the writing of Barrett Dorko, PT.

Barrett is a physical therapist with forty years of experience as a clinician, writer and teacher. He has conducted his workshop “Manually Managing Pain” in over 300 cities in the U.S.

Barrett has kindly agree to post regular essays here which will be found exclusively on Physical Therapy Web. You can find an extensive collection of Barrett’s writing at The Clinician’s Manual.

What makes me think I may be different?

After all, there are many therapists now very familiar with Melzack’s neuromatrix, and many of them who understand some of the things in there that confound me if only because they have a great deal more formal education. I have the bare minimum.

They may also be smarter.

And there are many others who teach for a living. I only did that full time for about a year before I went back to seeing patients. I’d learned how to teach by trial and error. Mostly error.

Most therapists are younger, not yet in need of naps and I’m sure the numbers who can outrun me and out lift me are growing. Some may even be better looking.

But I happened to be born at the right time. I was present with Paris in Montreal in ’74 the week before the Orthopedic Section was born at the World Congress that year. While still in college I spent three days watching Bobath at the height of her powers and was forever changed by this. I was the first therapist hired by Paris to work with him in Atlanta at the original Back Clinic and I traveled and taught across North America when manual care was virtually unheard of and manipulative technique was a great mystery. I watched Feldenkrais transform people not long before his passing, and I was transformed as well. I got Rolfed.

I taught with Grimsby, Kaltenborn, Lamb, Fowler and Rocabado. I argued loudly with McKenzie and explored every aspect of manual handling available to learn or experience. Maitland said aloud to 700 therapists that my words were “beautiful music” to his ears.

I got onto the Internet as soon as there was one and began offering ideas and references to the listservs available then. I engaged in vociferous disputes with several therapists I now consider friends and mentors. I’ve convinced myself that they have come over to my side.

I wrote hundreds of essays, got them published in the print media and compiled a few in a book that has sold out three times. I wrote hundreds more and gave them away to a series of web sites. Now I help moderate a web site devoted to reason, critical thinking and sharing the best information and rational explanation available. I write a daily blog there, and its completion is on my mind every moment of every day.

Along with all of this I treat patients in a variety of venues. I never want that part of my career to end, and I never, never intend to stop writing.

Now I want to write here as well.

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