What is IMT?
IMT is a unique method of health care that was developed by Sharon W. Giammatteo, PT PhD. Dr. Giammatteo studied with leaders of various forms of manual therapy around the world and combined what she had learned into one discipline. She also applied treatments across multiple systems in the body and developed revolutionary treatment methods of her own. As a result, IMT is a comprehensive form of manual therapy that treats causes, not just the symptoms, and addresses all the systems of the body.
“IMT treatment techniques are manual (hands-on), and generally involve gentle manipulative techniques that promote tissue repair, normalize structure and restore function. Unique to IMT is the integration of manual therapy techniques for all systems in the body (ie. bone, nerve, fascia, muscle, organ, lymph and circulatory systems). As each tissue type in the body has unique requirements for healing, tissue specific techniques are used to yield optimal results. Often, multiple systems are addressed to facilitate recovery, as a dysfunction in one system may influence or be influenced by a problem in another system. To illustrate, consider a patient with chronic shoulder pain. Upon being assessed, to determine which structures are contributing to their pain and/or dysfunction, treatment would ensue for the affected systems. As determined by the diagnostic findings, this may include treatment for muscles, fascia, joints, bones, nerves, circulatory vessels, lymphatic structures and/or organs. The order in which the involved systems would be treated would be determined by the findings. IMT includes many manual techniques, such as muscle energy techniques, myofascial release, neurofascial release, advanced strain-counterstrain, neural tension techniques, visceral mobilization and craniosacral therapy. Ultimately, IMT is the integration of techniques that assess and address all systems in the body.” CenterIMT.com
How does Integrative Manual Therapy work?
IMT helps the body heal itself. Initially, we consider your symptoms and evaluate different inherent rhythms in the body to develop a treatment plan customized for you. Treatment involves the use of gentle hand pressure at precise points, like reflex points or acupressure points, to normalize the space between structures, which allows the body’s natural ability to heal itself to return. This improves the integrity and functioning of the tissue.
What are the benefits of IMT?
IMT benefits all types of patients by reducing pain (migraines, pinched nerves, physical traumas, etc) and stress, while increasing cognitive function, energy levels, sleep regularity, and ease of movement. It has helped prevent surgeries, such as gallbladder, spinal, joint, deviated septum, or atrial fibrillation surgery. It also speeds up recovery after an injury or surgery. Athletes often use IMT treatment to improve their performance.
Can I do IMT on myself?
Yes! Sometimes, I will give you “homework” that involves holding specific hand placements for 20 minutes to do between treatment sessions. This homework will assist in your own healing and accelerate the progress you are making.
Are Craniosacral and IMT beneficial for children?
Craniosacral Therapy can be profoundly helpful for babies and small children. The reason that this method is so important for children is because the bones of a baby’s head are very soft and malleable. As a result, the passage of the birth canal leaves its imprint, as do all the big and little bumps our children undergo. By the time a child is seven years old their heads have pretty well hardened into shape; unfortunately, if they have not received any cranial work, this shape includes the adaptations they have made. With cranial work, many of these impressions can be smoothed away allowing more optimal movement and functioning. Clearly, due to the role of the cerebral-spinal system, this impacts viability of all the different systems of the body.
IMT is suitable for children of all ages. Many children also find IMT very relaxing and look forward to their sessions. It is common for them to fall asleep during the session. Parents of young children will be expected to be in the room with their child during treatment.
A Paradigm Unto Itself
What I have learned through the work of Frank Lowen (Lowen Systems) and Sharon Weisselfish Giammateo (Integrative Manual Therapy) is that the body has a hierarchy of needs, the very highest of which, for example, is to protect the vascular system. The musculoskeletal system is actually quite far down the priority list and will actually compromise itself to create compression systems around the more important structures for the body’s survival; if those issues are not addressed directly, manipulation to the bones and muscles is not going to be sustainable. Using sophisticated techniques that gently engage the autonomic nervous system combined with methods that help to repair tissues, dramatic changes can be brought about structurally as well as viscerally. A “side benefit” of holistic manual therapy can be improved function on a wide variety of levels.
The principles I am discussing above are directly applicable to craniosacral therapy as well. Applying the concepts and techniques for the repair of tissues that I have learned through IMT to the craniosacral methods of both Ed Stiles and Upledger only makes the work more effective. Balancing the system and treating the underlying causative factors (such as bone bruises and membrane issues etc) that were originally contributing to the dysbalance simply makes sense.