This post focuses on the physical tools that you should possess in order to treat a wider array of conditions. Marketing is critical to growing a practice in that it gets patients in the door, but it is your skill as a practitioner that will keep your patients coming back. Your ability to properly address each patient's condition is the greatest reflection of your skill.
Chiropractic adjustments are extremely beneficial in the right circumstances, but those circumstances do not apply to every patient that walks in your door. In some cases, there will be contraindications to a manual adjustment, in other cases a manual adjustment may not address the patient's complaint in the most effective way.
So what are the tools that will allow you as a practitioner to effectively and efficiently manage your patients' conditions? There are numerous tools that can provide benefit in your practice. A comprehensive list of those tools would be too long to be useful, so here are the 3 must-haves:
1. Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) Tools
The number one tool every practice should have is a set of IASTM tools. If you're not familiar with IASTM or how it works, you can find out more about what it is and how it works here.
We are in the business of moving joints, and joints have a very intimate relationship with muscles. If we aren't addressing the muscle component of musculoskeletal complaints, we're doing our patients a disservice. Standard massage therapy also has a place in our practices, but IASTM is a faster and more efficient way to address soft tissue injury and hypertonicity.
There are several options when it comes to IASTM tool sets, and it can be a bit daunting choosing the right one. Stainless steel IASTM tools are the most durable and hygenic of the material options available. Stainless steel also provides better feedback or resonance, allowing you to better identify and target adhesions. Another option to consider is the tool bevel. The bevel determines the impact of the tool on the skin. A sharp bevel will damage the superficial vasculature, which will bring the skin to threshold more quickly, while a more dull edge allows deeper penetration and the option of longer treatment times.
2. Adjusting Tools
Instrument-assisted adjusting has quite a bit of research to support its efficacy, and many practitioners view it as a preferable option to manual adjusting. Chiropractic Economics weighs some pros and cons of both here.
Manual adjustments aren't for everyone. You will encounter patients with contraindications to manual adjusting. What do you do in those cases? You could just perform some gentle mobilization and call it a day, but your patients will get little relief and improvement will be slow.
Even when there are no contraindications, you will see patients that are apprehensive of manual adjustments. In these cases, it is possible to earn their trust and perform manual adjustments, but that process may take time. And, there will be patients that, even after you have earned their trust, and even if you're the most skilled adjuster in the world, will still not want to be manually adjusted. Using an adjusting tool can be an effective way to treat patients in these circumstances.
There are many options to choose from when it comes to adjusting instruments, but I am going to focus on the two that best represent their categories. When it comes to adjusting tools, you can go with either electronic or non-electronic.
The best electronic option is ArthroStim by IMPAC, Inc. There are many features that make ArthroStim a pleasure to use, but the cost of the instrument is high. The cost can be prohibitive for someone that is just starting out, or someone that is trying to grow a small practice.
As for a non-electronic instrument-assisted adjusting tool, Activator is the king. Activator has an associated technique, but knowledge of the technique is not required to use the instrument. Activator provides a budget-friendly way to get started with instrument-assisted adjusting.
3. Rehab Equipment
Even if you aren't into weight training or sports, rehabilitative exercises should be a part of your practice. The exercises you utilize can and should vary based on the patient's condition, but you should have a repository of exercises and stretches to aid patient recovery.
Passive care is useful and is a big part of what we do, but transitioning a patient to active care provides lasting benefit and promotes greater overall health. The equipment associated with rehab exercises doesn't need to be expensive or take up a lot of space. I'm not recommending you go out and purchase a full olympic weight set, squat rack, and kettlebell set, but you could. What I am recommending is that you start small, and add a few basics.
The basics tend to be affordable, which is one of the reasons they're a good place to start. The first thing on the shopping list should be a set of resistance bands. Resistance bands are great because of their versatility; they can be used for a wide variety of exercises and band sets provide the right resistance for almost anyone. Next on the list is a yoga mat. Many stretches and core exercises are done either kneeling or lying down. Providing your patients a comfortable place to perform these activities enhances the patient's experience.