I was happy to have a talk with Ophelia Bartmann, a new practitioner in town who brings a complementary approach to healing: Osteopathy. She is very passionate about her work because it is something that connects with her own values and way of practicing medicine. Below is a short interview I had with her to learn more about what she does and get you inspired about her story.
Hi Ophelia, you are an osteopath and you practice at the CMI (Centre Medical International) in Ho Chi Minh City. Can you tell us more about your job?
Osteopathy is a manual therapy based on the identification of « loss of mobility » in the body structures. It reveals the causes of painful symptoms and acts in restoring mobility to dysfunctional areas.
Over time, the human body goes through a lot of disruptions: trauma for both the new born and the mother, physical injury, inappropriate postural habits, surgery, diseases, stress, emotional trauma, bad eating habits, etc. All those troubles progressively lead to an articular lock and tension chain within the human body tissues (joints, muscles, ligaments, viscera, fascia and meninges). After every loss of mobility, the body adapts itself and looks for a new balance, however, numerous troubles as well as aging progressively cause a break in that balance and the body develops symptoms. Human as a whole, all parts of its body are connected together through anatomical links such as vascularization of the area, nerves, and hormones, and thereby, symptoms might be felt in areas far from the articular lock zone.
What brought you to practice osteopathy?
I wanted to assist and help people to feel better. The osteopathic approach really matched my sensitivity: a completely “natural” healing therapy based on hand care without any medication. It helped me to regain a sense of touch that I had lost and to re-connect with the sensibility of the human body.
What I also like about this approach is that it is both holistic and creative. Osteopaths are first line practitioners, and in that sense, do not follow a specific prescription to provide treatment. We have a comprehensive approach to the patient and consider its body and life as a whole; we take into account its life story, state of mind, diet and do not only focus on the location of the pain. Then we establish a diagnosis and suggest a treatment. Each patient is different and it is important to consider it, meaning that osteopaths provide personalized treatments. For the same symptom, there are ten different osteopathic diagnoses and ten different ways to take care of the patient.
I also like its philosophy as a preventive therapy: symptoms related to loss of mobility do not occur when the body manages to adapt and compensate. But factors specific to each (work habits, sporting activities, physical inactivity, medical background, etc.) may trigger pain. Running an osteopathic annual review can neutralize these somatic triggers and prevent symptoms. On top of that, it gives the body more compensation credit to deal with the physical signs of stress. It is an excellent way to maintain good health by preventing the appearance of body lock and painful symptoms. Physical wellness is the first step to complete wellness.
The advantages of this preventive approach are now well known in pediatrics and a majority of parents entrust their babies in the first weeks of life to osteopath for any dysfunction related to conditions of pregnancy or birth, sometimes unnoticed, and can be quickly taken cared of.
The frequency for a person without specific disorders is about of 1 or 2 sessions per year. Nevertheless, someone with chronic pain or some specific weaknesses can shorten the period to a session every 3 or 4 months, for example.
Can you share with us about your experience and how it nourishes you personally and professionally?
I have travelled a lot and practiced in different countries. This has helped me to adapt my approach, deepen my listening skills and enhance the way I communicate with my patients. For example, different cultures require different approaches; therefore, I really consider physical, psychological, and cultural dimensions that are unique and different for everyone.
Also, self-healing is one of the foundations of osteopathy and toward its body approach, it has lead me to have more and more respect for my own body. I want to convey this message to my patients: to respect and to take care of their own bodies.
I have a high sense of responsibility as a professional and really pay attention to bring the best out of myself. I keep myself training, studying and interacting with my peers in order to grow.
“The only way to be a good therapist is to be passionate”.
What is your specific approach?
Osteopaths use different techniques:
- Structural techniques. They act straight on the structure and help regain articular mobility. These techniques can be articular or thrust.
- Articular techniques are soft, slow and repetitive in order to progressively increase the mobility of the joint.
- Thrust techniques are manipulations that may sometimes produce cracking noises.
- Fascial techniques. Fascia is a membrane of conjunctive tissue. Picture it as a cellophane paper that wraps all the joints, muscles and organs. Fascial techniques requires extremely small movements, therefore osteopath’s hands lay flat on the body, apparently without moving, resulting nonetheless in specific reactions.
- Visceral techniques. Those techniques act indirectly on the organ envelop to regain mobility to the organ.
- Cranial techniques. The cranium is composed of 8 bones connected with one another by sutures. Before being 18 months old, the baby’ s sutures are non-ossified. With aging, it gradually becomes more and more solid. The cranial techniques act on the mobility of the bones and the structures that are part of the head. It is an empirical and controversial field but remains useful to heal a lot of dysfunctions.
I like working with fascial and visceral techniques, which makes my approach particularly soft and gentle. But I would say, whatever the techniques, the aim is to treat the whole body.
Beyond the techniques, I make sure to create a trustful and relaxing cooperation with the patient. It’s one of the keys to success in the healing process. I take time to explain to the patient what I am doing and why I am doing it. I think it is important for him to understand the steps of the treatment because as I said, it is a partnership among which the patient has a role to play. I only act as a catalyst in the healing process.
When to have a consultation with you?
Adults may consult for musculo-skeletal pain like back pain and also digestive disorders, head ache, ENT chronic disorders, chronic gynecological disorders, cystitis, etc. It is recommended to run annual review in any case.
It is also important to visit after surgery, road accidents, twisted joints or fractures. It can also help to deal with chest tightness, stress and sleep disorders.
Children should run regular reviews during their growth, specifically if they are wearing dental appliances. New born babies and young mothers should systematically get reviews. Osteopathy may also help during the pregnancy.
Athletes willing to improve their performances may also consult.
By Claire Bailliez, Co-founder Inspiring Women