IMT treatment builds from a diagnostic foundation to create a personalized treatment plan that balances a patient’s short and long term goals and needs. The IMT approach is results oriented and interactive. The patient and the practitioner constantly monitor and re-assess progress through indicators such as increased function, improvements in the patient’s inherent biological rhythms, enhanced ranges of motion, reduction of pain, increased cognition, and/or normalized behavioral and emotional responses. A typical IMT treatment plan integrates manual therapies, nutritional counseling (i.e. natural supplements, diet, and herbs), and IMT body based psychotherapeutic methods.
As already stated, IMT treatment techniques are manual (hands-on), and generally involve gentle manipulative techniques to promote tissue repair, normalize structure and restore function. More specifically, IMT techniques generally put specific forces or torques into the tissues in order to create an environment within those tissues which is conducive for tissue repair to occur. An example of an IMT treatment technique for fascia or connective tissue dysfunction is IMT’s Myofascial Release Technique. The technique involves testing tissue glides on multiple planes and then manipulating those tissues on three planes, following the direction of least resistance. The practitioner then holds the fulcrum that these manipulations have created and monitors the tissues as they unwind under their hands. This technique attains an elongation of the fibers within the connective tissue as well as a normalization of the density and viscosity from within the surrounding connective tissue.
IMT addresses both anatomy and physiology. The treatment of anatomy includes manual techniques for bones, ligaments, discs, nerves, arteries, veins, organs and more. To date, Sharon Giammatteo, Ph.D., I.M.T., C., Dr. Thomas Giammatteo, DC, NMD, PT, Ph.D.-IMT-C and their colleagues have developed thousands of techniques to improve these structures. Treatment plans incorporate these techniques as necessary based on diagnostic indications. The treatment of physiology, to promote normalization of biochemistry, uses both manual therapy and nutritional wellness programs. This may include treatments targeting hormones, sleep cycles, metabolism, stress responses, etc. IMT’s body based psychotherapeutic approach involves specific techniques such as manual techniques, dialogue, and visualization to decrease emotional and mental stress in the body.
In addition to manual treatment techniques, IMT practitioners may also integrate treatment tools based on their previous or on-going training. These may include Ultrasound, Detoxification foot bath, Endermologie, Therapeutic laser, Musica Medica, Functional exercise and circuit training equipment, Acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and more.
A unique feature of IMT, and one that sets it apart in the field of rehabilitation, is in the way it integrates structural and functional rehabilitation approaches. Traditional rehabilitation generally focuses on optimizing function (i.e. strength, balance, range of motion), despite the fact that a patient may have structures (i.e. ligament, disc, bone, blood vessels) which are compromised. While functional approaches play an integral role in the rehabilitation process, clinical results show that to obtain optimal healing and rehabilitation both in the short and long term, structural integrity should first be restored to the damaged structure, and then function can be optimized.
To illustrate the difference, functional approaches would address strength, balance, and movement to a leg following knee surgery for a torn ligament. IMT structural techniques, on the other hand, might first decrease the swelling at the joint, enhance the healing of the torn ligaments, improve blood flow into and out of the knee, and decrease the inflammation at the joint capsule prior to implementing any functional techniques. Once structural integrity has been restored to the structures at the knee, the potential for function of the knee, and the entire leg, will be much greater. Functional rehabilitation will build on structural improvements to optimize, for example, balance in standing, walking and running, and the strength of the muscles in the knee and leg. The distinction between functional and structural rehabilitation approaches is akin to tuning the strings of a piano before learning how to play the piano.
To further illustrate, consider a child with developmental disabilities. The child may have problems with speech, learning, cognition, and attention. The integration of structural IMT techniques to normalize such things as blood flow into and out of the brain, immune system function, lung function to optimize oxygen utilization, the nerves that innervate the tongue and the muscles of speech and swallowing, and the gut to better extract nutrients from the food that they take in, will all ultimately improve the child’s potential for function. Functional rehabilitation is integrated into the program for this type of child, so that as their structures begin to work better, the functional approach teaches them how to use this ‘new’ potential for function.
The following examples show how the diagnostics and treatment of IMT work:
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
A child who has trouble concentrating would be assessed using the diagnostic techniques outlined above. With ADD, the practitioner would expect to find dysfunction at the frontal lobe of the brain, as the frontal lobe is responsible for intelligence, concentration, judgment, perception and attention. If however, the diagnostics did not indicate a problem at the frontal lobe, the practitioner would investigate other areas which may be contributing to the signs and symptoms. It is often the case, that the frontal lobe is being affected by dysfunction in another area. By uncovering and treating the primary site of breakdown, the signs and symptoms of ADD would begin to change. Common areas which have been found to contribute to ADD are the eyes, the occipital lobe of the brain (associated with visual perception and processing) and the ears. Even seemingly unrelated issues, such as chronic ear infections could influence ADD, and IMT diagnostics would uncover this type of connection and treat it accordingly.
Low Back Pain
Another complex example might be low back pain that is not responding to treatment. An IMT practitioner would widen the scope of investigation beyond the muscles and bones at the low back, to see what other structures were contributing to symptoms. It is common to find the organs which sit in close proximity to the low back contributing to low back pain. For instance, both the sigmoid colon (the end of the colon) and the cecum and Ileocecal valve (the beginning of the colon) are often implicated. They often exhibit dysfunction due to a gastrointestinal problem and may have lost their integrity, resulting in a ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. Treatment techniques to restore integrity to these structures, coupled with nutritional counseling are often highly effective at reducing chronic and stubborn presentations of low back pain.
Alternatively, diagnostics may point to the source of the problem being a multi-systems breakdown at the low back region, where dysfunction in bone, disc, joint, nerve, blood vessels and organ may all be involved. IMT has specific techniques for addressing each of these types of structures. A customized treatment plan would again combine manual therapy to normalize the structures involved, with nutritional counseling to optimize the physiology of the structures involved.
As with all dysfunction, total body diagnostics would be done to discern the pattern of dysfunction for a given patient. Common patterns contributing to chronic fatigue include a breakdown of one or more of the structures of the immune system, the circulatory system, the detoxification and/or the elimination systems. A treatment plan might include manual therapy techniques to normalize and in turn optimize function of lymph nodes, arterial and venous blood flow, the liver and kidneys for detoxification and the colon for elimination. Dietary recommendations and natural supplements would be given to normalize the physiology or the biochemistry of the structures involved. Furthermore, IMT body based psychotherapeutic approaches would be integrated into treatment sessions to decrease mental and emotional stresses.