ConnectTherapy is an approach to physiotherapy, where the whole person is assessed to determine how the current problem (wherever it is in the body) is actually reflecting deeper, underlying and usually more long standing issues.
ConnectTherapy was developed by Canadian researcher and clinician Dr Linda-Joy Lee, whose pioneering work in understanding the thorax (the thoracic spine and “rib-cage region” of the spine) saw her also develop The Thoracic Ring ApproachTM. The Thoracic Ring Approach is an integral part of ConnectTherapy as it helps us to more deeply understand the integrated function of the entire spinal column and pelvis. ConnectTherapy is a treatment model that is congruent with the latest research on pain and movement and the “biopsychosocial” approach to health.
The Thoracic Ring Approach
The Thorax has historically been described as “inherently stiff and stable”, based on incomplete and inaccurate models for understanding the Spine. Treatment techniques that believed the thorax was always stiff have lead to treatment methods that aim to make it move more; like manipulations (“cracking” it) and mobilising it.
Dr Linda-Joy Lee demonstrated how the shape of the bones and joints as well as the sheer number of joints in the region, mean that the thorax is a highly mobile region. Regions of the body that are able to move more, need to be able to control that movement.
The larger the range of motion available, the more complex are the demands on the body to control that movement. Consider further that the rib cage and thoracic spine share muscle attachments with the lumbar spine & pelvis, head, neck, shoulder girdle and upper limb and you can start to imagine how dysfunction in the thorax could influence many other regions.
One key point is that when the thorax becomes dysfunctional (through habits, poor posture, repetitive actions, compensation from problems in other areas like the foot), it may or may not become painful itself. In other words, a thorax that doesn’t function well might not be painful. So using pain as an indication of function misses the whole story. But pain or no pain, the thorax can still drive other uncomfortable symptoms. Headaches, incontinence, autonomic dysautonomia.
The Thoracic Ring Approach in ConnectTherapy
Dr Linda-Joy Lee recognised that this fact is true for the whole body and many key concepts she developed in the Thoracic Ring Approach were adapted into a system to systematically assess the whole body. The body is assessed related to the individuals own story (where they’ve been) and goals (where they want to get to).
In a nutshell, ConnectTherapy recognises that pain or no pain, dysfunction in one area of the body, can still drive ongoing trouble in other regions of the body. Because a healthy and happy system has choice and the ability to move in a variety of ways. Dysfunctions start to limit our ability to move and we start to feel stiff, old and weak.
ConnectTherapy at PhysiYoga
Emily Eglitis is the first Certified ConnectTherapy Practitioner in Australia and has worked closely under the mentorship of Dr Linda-Joy Lee, having travelled to Canada four times for in-depth training as well as working as a teaching assistant alongside LJ for seven years.
Emily uses the ConnectTherapy model of assessment and treatment with all her clients and mentors her team in this approach. Discover how we integrate ConnectTherapy into your care at PhysiYoga here.