The Physical Assessment


In my three previous blogs on physiotherapy assessment

A Different Perspective On Your Physiotherapy Assessment

 The Subjective Physiotherapy Assessment

 The Subjective Physiotherapy Assessment - Part 2


I discussed concepts and steps which for most will not have been considered and most will have assumed that the physical assessment was the first step.

That is the mistake that so many make, missing out on the vital steps of creating the right environment to build connection and trust and gaining a deeper understanding of your important beliefs. Make that mistake and you are destined to gain so much less.

So the physical part of the assessment. What do we do? Well, in a private room we may ask you to take off some of your clothes, so you might want to be wearing clothes you're comfortable in and can take off quickly. If you're too shy to take off your clothes, just say it, it's not a problem.

Many of the assessments we make at my clinic are not common in the UK or anywhere else in the world. I am fortunate to have studied and qualified at the highest level in specific pain relief techniques and as a result I have learnt and ingrained advanced assessment techniques in myself and the rest of my team.

Then we'll be looking structurally at your skin. What does it look like? How healthy it is? What are the hairs like? Are there hairs missing? Does that mean the nerves are not working properly in that area? What's the temperature of the skin? Is it sweaty? Is it dry? How does the limb move? Does it move normally? If not, it will tell us is it’s likely to be arthritis in the joint that's blocking it. Or is it likely to be a tendon? Or a muscle or ligament? Or is it the nerves? Are they transmitting messages normally?

Or is it the brain? Has your brain created the pain felt in the body, possibly locked in from an emotional trauma many years earlier, even back to when you were a child? Chronic pain is created in many parts of the brain (evident in scans). Mindmapping physiotherapy techniques help to unwire the pain felt in the body.

So we're assessing the physical aspect. And that tells us so much about where we believe the problem is, or which systems are mostly causing the problem. Is it mostly the muscles? Is it mostly the nerves innovating the muscles? Is a blood flow problem? Is it something to do with what you are eating or if you don't move enough you are too weak. Or are you so stressed up, that you’re just pumping out inflammation into the area and you’re getting a more aggressive form of arthritis. And you don't need to. By looking at and at the same time feeling the response of your body, we learn a lot. If we hold a patient's hand that's sore, your eyes tend to move very differently than if you hold part of the body that isn't. Also there's a feeling about the hand, there's a hesitancy and there's a sort of a difference in the tone or strength.

There is so much in our senses, that we pick up on when we're assessing physically.  Clearly this can only be done physically, face to face. Most of the above would be totally impossible to achieve by virtual means.

In my next blog Your Physiotherapy Prescription I’ll take you through how we develop a Physiotherapy treatment prescription, or plan, which takes you through the steps needed to achieve a successful outcome and let you get on with your life.


In the meantime, if you are in pain right now and you feel confident we can help, then why not call now. Erica, Jean and Charlotte will be happy to help.

Call 01889 881488 Now

p.s. Don’t try to book online at this time as that is only suitable for existing clients already being treated for an existing problem.

My earliest memories of embroidery were having after school lessons at 9 years old, with a wonderful primary school teacher called Mrs Kerr. I didn’t realise at the time the sessions were set up to help me talk about an upsetting happening in my family, I just thought I was very gifted at embroidering lampshades! I had no idea my teacher was a secret healing artist.

I haven’t really sewn since that long forgotten time until now, unless to fix a button. It was whilst making my first doll today, that I found my mind travelling back to the 1970’s and find that long lost memory in my minds archives.

My next encounter of the healing arts was much later in life when I was studying Reiki and the Shamanic arts. Even simple Shamanic twig rag dolls were believed to carry a powerful way to connect between supernatural unknown worlds. As part of that training, I was taught how to heal through doll like figures. Shamans made medicine dolls as part of their spiritual practice to aid healing.

Throughout history we have crafted figures in our own images. Fetishes, effigies, totems, puppets and symbolic dolls playing a key role in religious ceremonies and healing or sadly the dark arts. With ancient healing ceremonies, a doll, called the scapegoat, might have been created to represent the illness and would be buried, enshrined or burnt to dispel the disease.


I must admit that I turned to dolls and puppets for a number of my health presentations abroad, as a means to explain painful case histories and get the story across. I wasn’t using them to send prayers or spirits to specific patients. I might have been burnt at the stake!

Loving the colourful clothes of shamans and doing a little studying into cave paintings and art therapy, strengthened my interest in combining my very scientific orthodox medical approach with a little old-fashioned magic.  I could start to grasp how it made more sense for psychology to come through a creative door in the right side of the brain rather than the logical left. This helps explain why historically it was believed that when a doll maker made a doll, their actions on the doll influenced their own feelings, moods and sensations.

So this weekend I have decided to delve deeper into the history and art of doll making,  stepping out of 2D art into 3D magical healing. I find myself surrounded by doll making books, fabric, twigs, clay and pipe cleaners.

I have been drawn to a beautifully illustrated book, written by Barb Kobe, a very gifted American Psychologist and Artist. Her teaching of reflective healing thoughts, sewn into five Doll like representations of yourself is very enlightening! She describes her five dolls as Guardian, Scapegoat, Loving Kindness, Talisman and Inner Healer.

Thus, I started making my first messy creation. I thought knowing anatomy inside out it would be easy, how wrong was I! For my first creative action, I wanted to work with a theme of trees, as that was my latest subject for series of art scribbles. Snow at Xmas inspired me to walk out amongst the trees rather than cycle past. I then started to day dream about how trees are the lungs of the Earth.

I didn’t have any expectations or preconceived ideas about embarking on this journey. I just thought it would be a lovely soft creative way to help my patients with anxiety, upsetting backstories and chronic pain.


So, armed with a pile of twigs, I tied a couple together to make my first tree lady. Bark Kobe, Medicine Doll tutor, suggests your first doll should be to represent your guardian. This is to help protect you on your reflective healing story.

I struggled with a lumpy body with padding in all the wrong places, I made a really bad first attempt face with harsh buttons for eyes. Then I let go and got creative, and it was as if time stood still, the fire went out, my tea went cold…

I was suddenly reliving very traumatic moments in my life and it was if I was outside myself looking in. I felt cocooned in love, I could see it from a totally different angle, I was really getting out of my own way. I wasn’t expecting that! I thought I would have a go, then sit in meditation later and think it through.

With lockdowns and COVID-19 it’s really tough to stay positive and our immunity will be badly affected by relentless stress. Hence, now more than ever, we need mindfulness and peace. For some, the art of dollmaking could be the catalyst to induce a healing process.

I will let you know how I get on.