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My thoughts on Kinesiologists' role in integrative care and a message to the colleagues

Pursuing my career as a Kinesiologist has helped me realize the importance of incorporating the movement training strategies into clinical treatment. Both the healthcare and fitness communities have been under increasing pressure to help people adopt healthier movement behaviour, while at the same time, preventing them from getting back into their compensatory behavioural patterns. The past 4 years has been an important journey for me to witness the real benefit of Kinesiologists’ approach that helps people 1) find movement that are suitable for their unique needs, 2) guide them to achieve sports or recreational goals as well as 3) maintaining healthy life styles. The more I work in this field, the more I realize that the role of movement specialists is to provide meaningful experiences to clients or patients rather than dictating how they should move.

I believe that the true value of Kinesiologists’ approach lies within its core concept that we help people regain the locus of control of healthy movement so that their reliance on the passive therapy gradually decreases. The importance of this “Active Therapy” has been already well-accepted by the medical communities. We have already seen many of the manual therapeutic clinicians adopted exercise-based strategies. However, the current medical system only allows incomplete deployment of such strategies due to its pathology-driven model.

I recently visited Atlanta, USA for a presentation and had an opportunity to introduce Kinesiologist as a growing profession. I’ve heard during the conference that many of the Physical Therapists from USA struggle with the limitations put by the insurance companies that they can only treat the areas of symptoms even when they know that other body parts actually provide sources for that symptoms. Even in Canada, which seems to have a bit more flexible regulation, I’ve seen Physiotherapists struggle with the same issue when treating patients with the insurance claims. This naturally calls for the Kinesiologists to bring the complete form of Active Therapy for the patients’ recovery and long-term health.

As a non-clinician, a Kinesiologist is allowed to provide the Active Therapy that can integrate the whole-body function. This also gives opportunities for the Kinesiologists to achieve the holistic understanding of the patients or clients. As Kinesiologists usually collaborate with other clinicians, they rarely ignore the importance of the pathology-specific treatment. Instead, they usually try to complement such an approach. Therefore, I can confidently say that Kinesiologists provide the fundamental driving force to bring the human-focused approach to the current medical model while fully respecting the necessity of the traditional pathology-driven approach. Interestingly, India has already started the movement to integrate Active Therapy into the main stream medical model by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. John Ebnezar, in which the traditional pathology specific model was combined with yoga therapy. The doctors from India was impressed by Canadian Kinesiology approach and the way we assess the function of the integrated movement control. They mentioned that the Kinesiology assessment that differentiate between the motor control issues and other issues that may need medical attentions can be useful for their model as well.

I had another opportunity to introduce Kinesiologist as a growing profession to Korean community at the Vancouver Korean Consulate Event. During the Korean Consulate Event, many teenagers have revealed their concern that the career as a Kinesiologist doesn’t seem to be a well-defined path. With regard to this concern, they have also asked me if it would be a better idea to pursue another career such as a Physiotherapist or a Chiropractor. I could sincerely relate myself to their concern as I had the same concern in the past. I feel very grateful to get to know the exemplary Clinical Kinesiologist like Jordan Smith and Tara Keller who helped me embrace Kinesiologist as my career. They showed me what a good adaptive movement specialist can truly do to help people reduce and prevent pain.

I love working with Physiotherapists and Chiropractors and I really respect their profession. However, I think it is unfair that their profession and our profession are looked the same. Physios and Chiros are trained to understand pathologies and to provide manual or modality-driven treatment. Even though they are usually the active proponents of the exercise-based therapy, their time and energy cannot be entirely devoted only for such an Active Therapy. On the other hand, Kinesiologists are expected to be movement experts. Their entire time and energy can be devoted to movement driven therapy. In addition, Kinesiologists are at the front line to help people experience meaningful changes in how their brain organizes their movement. Therefore, thorough understanding of how the central nervous system controls movement can really deepen the practice as a Kinesiologist.

It was very rewarding to witness that my clients reduce or get rid of the pain through their own effort using the adaptive movement strategies. I want to encourage all the students who are interested in becoming a Kinesiologist but are concerned about the stability of this career to experience the value of the Kinesiology approach first, and then ask themselves again about what their heart desire. I also think that we should continue to develop the culture in which experienced Kinesiologists guide the starting Kinesiologists to gain the rewarding experiences during the early stages of their career so that they are not feeling pressured to pursue another career that they may not entirely passionate about.

There are still lots for me to learn and I know there are more experienced Kinesiologists out there who can help me develop more practical insights as to how we can help each other to promote this profession and guide the starting Kinesiologists to practice their passion without too much concern. I would love to get connected whoever is interested.

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