Why Physiotherapy should be like repairing a fridge-freezer

TheKettleBellPhysioUncategorized0 Comments

We have an NEC fridge-freezer at home which is now more than 10 years old. It’s been in and out of a removal truck between 8 different homes and a storage unit in that time. It’s served us well but has recently been playing up and not cooling very well.

This week I contacted http://www.sealafridge.com.au/ to get the seals replaced. On the fridge and freezer doors the seals were clearly knackered, with cracks, splits and at least one gaping hole. I could even feel cold air escaping from the top of the freezer door. I didn’t need to look any further; it was right there in front of me practically shouting “fix the seals you fool or I’ll ruin this tub of chocolate ice cream while you sleep”.

I booked an appointment for the technician who met my lovely wife this week.

It turns out that while the seals look dreadful and are not fit-for-purpose (sealing the door), they’re functioning just fine – they just “look” bad. I’m a Physiotherapist not a fridge technician. To my surprise, being a daily fridge user apparently counts for nothing when it needs to be fixed.

The technician indicated that it’s relatively common for doors to slip with time, particularly when they’re being moved around a lot. Did someone just say intervertebral disc!? Sure enough, both doors were wonky so the magnets holding the seals together were much weaker. I had no idea that was even a thing. When it was pointed out it seemed obvious. It had been there right in front of me and I hadn’t noticed it. It was one of those “ah ha” moments.

I was expected to be paying $175 +GST to have the seals replaced. The lovely man from www.sealafridge.com.au quickly diagnosed the real cause of our fridge’s symptoms, educated us, and pointed us in a different direction. Despite the call-out, he didn’t charge us either as he didn’t perform the job we had asked for. His technical knowledge and educating us was equally valuable, and if nothing else it saved us the $175 + GST which would have been a waste of money.

He could have done the job we had expected of him and not educated us as he did; we would have had a new seal and he would have been paid for the job, but that wouldn’t be ethical would it. He could have been a new-technician, or a poor one, and not known any better and gone ahead and changed the seals regardless. Thankfully he was knowledgeable and experienced. If or when we do ever need the seals replaced (or anyone that ever mentions the same to me), we’ll be going straight back to sealafridge because the service he *did* provide was enormously valuable, exactly what was needed, ethical, and most importantly, it established our trust.

The human body isn’t like a fridge-freezer, but body parts do change with age, they frequently ‘look’ terrible on imaging, and we frequently have an opinion about how and why we become symptomatic.

Physiotherapy isn’t about ‘fixing’ anything; we’re not surgeons and frequently replacing the seals (surgery) just isn’t the right thing to do, or in any way helpful in spite of how knackered things may ‘appear’ to be. Example: when I was 28 I was told I had the AC joint (part of the shoulder) of an 80 year old. They’re working just fine now and haven’t been touched since.

Too often in Physiotherapy (and beyond) the metaphorical seals are being blamed for symptoms. Too often clinicians are simply ignorant of anything beyond the seal. Too often clinicians choose not to educate their customers. Too often clinicians are changing the seals simply because that’s what the customer is asking for or expecting of them. Too often clinicians are changing the seals when they know it’s not the right thing to do.

My advice: always get a second opinion. Find a Physiotherapist you can trust and stick with them.

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