Level 1, Maitland week 4

So this is how fast eight months can pass. Can not help but being a cliche and thinking of the first day coming to Gdansk, totally unaware of the city and the surroundings. Looking for the accommodation with the taxi driver and waiting in the rain to get into a contact with the room host. Having no idea what so ever what the becoming week or  eight months would hold. Now I do.

This week would include physiotherapy for the elbow, the cranio-mandibular area and the wrist. Also there would be some stuff still left from cervical and thoracical spine. Some twist would give the assesment for passing the level I on Friday but there would also be some practicing done for the most important techniques. As on the previous weeks also this last one will include three sessions with the patients.

So there will be a quite a lot of tiniest bits of anatomy, group working and reflecting back to the passed lessons and practicing. Also at this point I did not know it yet but in the end of the week I would be richer in experiences in so much more ways than just those that were described in the course plan.

Days 1 & 2

We spent two days with the elbow which was helpfull for me personally because the area was less familiar. I was in a need for a proper revision. At this point in the week 4 it was expected for us to know some main principles concerning the concept and the general approach.

Or that is how it should be. At some point I was as lost as a seaturtle on the desert but eventually got back on the right track. Kind of.

Our patient was a knee case with a history of a acl-rupture and recection. For me that was a much more comfortable zone since I am used to do some postoperative knee patients almost daily. Still there was a lot of going through and to process. The learned techniques and principles were naturally revisioned with the patients and group work so at this point I was carefully optimisthic that the assessment on Friday could be possible to manage.

In that environment it was natural to think outside of your routine in the daily work. Within those course campus walls the differentiation between the knee’s three (yes) different joints was casual and makes sense automathically. In the practical work from Monday to Friday it requires much more concentration and countless repetitions before it comes automathically in your mind. Or this is how it works in my mind.

The day ended in a very chilly, unpleasant and weird but still for sure hilarious way when myself and 5 coursemates went to the Baltic sea to swim. There was no wind, the sky was clear and sparkling with stars. Only the city lights were reflecting themselves on the few clouds above and in the horizon one could only see the few lights from the ships far away.

The water was freezing, and afterwards there was sand everywhere and I could not feel my toes in two hours.

Memorable in any case.

Day 3

Thursday theme was about temporal-mandibular area. It included treatments  with for example pain or clicking noises or sensations of subluxation in the jaw opening and of course ways to examine and differentiate the possible origins of the symptoms. The anatomy was for sure a small glimpse of the extremely complex and detailed structures but there was still a good base to work with.

It became obvious that a big part of people has symptoms in TMJ-area sometimes in their lives. Whether it is clear what the responsible structure of the symptom is might be another issue. As in any area in physiotherapy, it could be possible to specialize solely on the jaw but even if you do not, with some concentration and good education the main principles can be adapted as well as in any other joints and structures.

In the afternoon again we were with the patients in two groups. While the other group was working with a patient, the others were doing revision and training for the assessment which was basically a practical test of a techniques and principles we have been learning and practicing since March.

Obviously we were given the most essential techniques which might be useful to revise. That was pretty useful because being so early on the journey, it is not the easiest task to recognize the most commonly used tools of the concept. And by tool I mean the bigger picture of a certain principles how you can adapt the grips, the techniques, the rhytm and so on.

And because this is the stuff one probably won’t learn  efficiently enough from the books, training in practice was a must. So, after the day at the campus we did some revision with couple of course mates until late evening. But what comes to learning the meaningful stuff… I headed home as a Polish people seems-to-be most important war board game winner. A night well spent.

Day 4

The morning started straight away with the assessments. We were in groups of eight people and played the part of the patient and the therapist as in pairs. In terms we carried out three techniques which were given for us at the evaluation room. Our evaluators Sandra and Daria were warm and cheerful as they were  the whole week, even though it was clear that my grip was at times less like a stroking a butterfly but more of a squishing the poor thing. Luckily Sandra was not as fragile.

The situation was focused but not pressurized and at least for me it really hit what is the testing about in general. It is not doing the revision for the sake of the teachers or the evaluators. In most cases it has very little effect on their lives whether someone passes or not, thought it surely is always a nice add. While we were training for the assessment during the week, we were really practicing for the real life. The assessment was just an instrument for measuring the knowledge, not a value itself.

Sure an obvious case for many. Maybe for me too, but it feels I really figured it out just now. Thinking how much I did learn during the preparations for the assessment. After taking part of different tests and exams since being 7 years old. Feeling a bit slow here on the other side of the screen.

In the evening it was revealed that all of us performed the assessment with a qualification and we were given the diplomas straight away because some of us needed to leave before the official end of the week.

Later in the evening I thought what all did the diploma include for me. It said that it held certain amount of practical training and credits and it was an official qualification for four weeks intensive course. It also qualified to continue the Maitland path in the future if one was willing. And what it comes to the physio side, the work was totally worth it and did rise up to the expectations and even more.

When it came down concerning other than professional merits, for each and every one of us it held inside different things. For me, it was four weeks in a totally unfamiliar country. Countless travelling hours. Countless Google Maps uses. Hundreds of uncomprehensive pronounciations and tries.

The day when I can say Wrzeszcz I will apply for double citizenship.

It included learning a new work language properly (not Polish). New friendly encounters with unfamiliar room hosts who were open minded and trustworthy from the start, also a few grumphs from a bus drivers when I asked the possibility to communicate with a foreign language.

As mentioned before, swimming in the Baltic sea twice. Tasting some traditional Polish foods and some brief cultural learning. Getting myself out of the comfort zone and actually finding myself being in my happy place outside from it. One new tattoo as a memory of a most colorful, hardest and most rewarding years so far.

But most of all, it included dozens of memorable and meaningful counteractions with other people. From the demanding, professional yet warm hearted teachers who were there to pass their teachings on, to the helpful and talented course mates. Before I did not have any contact with the country, the people or the athmosphere. But now I do and can honestly say that it is a joy going back on May to start the next level. Before that the path might take me to some more exploring in Poland and hopefully some reunion with the people who put a lot of effort on saying karjalanpaisti and those who listened the Moody Blues without being moody what so ever.

So, until next time. In the meantime the looking for the balance between the work which I am even more compassioned about and recovering and resting continues. And the search for the Neuroshima Hex starts.

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