Judith Aston-Linderoth (JAL): Now that you’ve been working with the work for a while and integrating it into your practice, how would you say the Aston Kinetics theory facilitates your work?
Emi Yukawa (EY): The Aston Kinetics Theory facilitates the PT work that I do by giving it another dimension that is more focused on treating what I feel in a patient's tissues rather than what I, 'see', with my PT eyes. I use the Aston concepts and Bodywork on patients and obtain amazing results that I cannot explain or rationalize in my, 'PT brain'. In PT school and practice, we focus on, 'here is the problem, here is how I am going to treat it'. With Aston Kinetics, it's more like, 'your body will tell me where the problem is and this is how we are going to treat it'.
JAL: How has the movement work and 101&102 concepts been useful in your practice?
EY: The movement work and concepts in 101 & 102 have been produced very significant changes in the patients that I work with. I have to admit that there is a small percentage of patients that I have been able to use the movement work with, (see below), however, many of the concepts I use daily with a majority of my patients, especially the teaching concepts.
JAL: How were the sequences and touches from 103 bodywork techniques integrated?
EY: I started using the sequences and touches from 103 for some of my patients who were very, 'uncomfortable', in their own bodies and found that it calmed and relaxed them, (which decreased their abnormal tone and reflexive movements), which allowed me to perform my traditional 'PT' related activities and interventions.
JAL: What additions were added from taking the 104 content with seeing, palpation, problem solving and bodywork?
EY: The addition of taking the 104 class gave me more knowledge and problem solving abilities to use the bodywork as a primary treating intervention rather than as an adjunct or precursor to a traditional PT intervention.
Overall, the things I learned from the 101-104 classes and have been able to implement with my patients have produced amazing results. However, my biggest obstacle is the patient population that I work with. The patients I work with are aged 0-21 years old with chronic, life changing diagnoses which impact their strength, range of motion, motor control, sensation, etc. Their parents and families come to 'Therapy', for traditional therapeutic interventions to get their child up and moving to attain or improve their gross motor skills.
The patients that I have used the Aston concepts and Bodywork are typically older, (18-20 years old), and can follow instructions. The results I have seen are amazing and immediate. For example, I have taught 2 of my patients with impaired balance and coordination how to transfer from sitting to standing the, 'Aston way'. When they forget and do not use the 'Aston way', they know immediately and frequently lose their balance when standing or cannot walk as far. When they use the 'Aston way', their standing sway is much improved which then improves their stability and they can walk for farther distances before losing their balance.
The patient that I wanted to share with you is 'D'. He is now 18 years old and I have worked with him since he was 2. He has a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy which affects his body, (left side more than his right), but he is an amazing young man and has learned how to walk short distances without his walker, (it is not pretty, but he can do it). A component of his Cerebral Palsy is his dystonia, (difficulty relaxing his muscles which has caused him to develop significant muscle tightness). He has had 3 major orthopedic surgeries which have changed his alignment and posture, but have not improved his ability to move his legs. He is soooo tight that I use aggressive PT interventions just to maintain his motion, (not even to loosen him up). I saw him over the summer, 2-3x's/week x 6 weeks, to try to loosen him up so that he is able to continue walking as much as he can without pain or without doing (more) damage to his joints. After about 2-3 weeks of the aggressive PT interventions, I started to use the Aston concepts and bodywork. Never would I have thought that the gentle bodywork would make a difference in his alignment and posture, but it did and in a big way. His posture and alignment, which I thought he was 'stuck' with, improved significantly each Bodywork session, (I wish you could see his before and after photos). At the end of each session, I would ask D how he felt and we would say amazing things like, 'I feel lighter', 'I can move my legs easier', 'I can take a bigger step', etc. Also seeing him stand, his posture and alignment was more, 'neutral', therefore, he could stand without holding his hands together in the middle of his body for balance. Instead he stood with his hands relaxed at his sides, and he was, 'looser', so he could stand with his feet about 10" apart! The big thing is he could move his foot 10" away from his opposite foot, (which he could never do because he was so tight he typically stands with his feet close together). D would tell me that his feeling of being 'loose', would last 4-5 days, which my aggressive PT interventions only lasted 1-2 days at the most.
Now, my biggest obstacle to continuing his Bodywork is figuring out how to justify D's continued weekly therapy sessions because we must show functional gains in his mobility in order to justify weekly therapy sessions.