Curiosity about how it could help her heal from a painful leg injury led Jamie Howard to become a believer in the Graston Technique – a cutting-edge treatment designed for those who, like her, suffer from painful soft-tissue orthopedic conditions.
Jamie is a 2004 graduate of Drexel University, where she got her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
"When I interviewed at Drexel I liked what I saw," she said. "The teachers seemed really nice and very dedicated and Philadelphia just has so much to offer. I knew it was a good fit."
She spent three years in the graduate program which she described as "very comprehensive and intense," leaving her feeling prepared for the real world. Shortly after completing the program, Jamie took a job with Dresher Physical Therapy in Upper Dublin.
Still feeling discomfort from a sports-related injury she acquired years ago, Jamie was encouraged by one of her patients to look into something known as the Graston Technique. She researched it on the internet and found a chiropractor in the Philadelphia area, close to where she lives, and began undergoing treatments.
"I had a lot of scar tissue in my leg and traditional massage treatments just weren't enough. I knew there had to be something else," Jamie said. "So when my patient planted the seed, I decided to really look into it."
Jamie began to learn more about the Graston Technique, underwent her own treatments and was fascinated by how well it worked to alleviate her discomfort.
What she learned was that the Graston Technique uses six stainless steel instruments, all with different shapes and contours that conform to different body parts. Because of the steel and the beveled edges, the tools are able to penetrate deeper than human hands to break up scar tissue and knotting.
"It's like the gold-standard of massage," she said.
But according to Jamie, the more she started talking about it, the more she realized that nobody knew about it. She couldn't understand why such a highly-effective practice, one that professional athletes have been using for years, was virtually unknown to her patients and peers in the medical profession.
Since then, Jamie has taken it upon herself to spread the word. She wrote letters to doctors and local newspapers and wrote about it in her office’s newsletter. It was when she crafted a press release and sent it to a dozen television stations that she really got the response she was hoping for.
Both CBS and ABC ran stories about the Graston Technique in the Philadelphia area. It was passed on to ABC's sister stations in New York, NY, and Dallas, TX, and Jamie found herself promoting the technique on television screens in taxis across New York City for a week.
"From that coverage, we gained about 150 new patients just in our office and that number continues to grow," Jamie said. "There are so many orthopedic conditions we see that are soft-tissue problems; we use the Graston Technique every day."
Not only do the patients benefit from the Graston Technique, but because the tools make it so effortless and take the strain off of their hands, therapists are benefiting too.
Today, Jamie not only practices the Graston Technique in her own office, but she travels around giving presentations and is on her way to being certified to teach it to others.
"Jamie's professional qualities, along with her enthusiasm, came to our attention and she has worked with Graston Technique at the Philadelphia Hand Foundation convention and demonstrated the technique, with great skill, before major regional physical therapy groups in the northeast U.S.," Michael Arnolt, President of Graston Technique, said.
Jamie explained that schools are beginning to introduce it in their curriculums and she hopes to one day find that Drexel is among them.