Mind and body-Physiotherapy and complementary therapy

Hough, A. (1992). Paper presented at the International Conference of Centres, Institutions and Individuals Concerned With the Care of Victims of Organized Violence: Health , Political Repression and Human Rights, Santiago, Chile. 
This article was reviewed by University of Minnesota physical therapy doctoral student, Angela Pitar, 2014. 
The article may be obtained free of charge by emailing library@dignityinstiture.dk
Background - Torture victims often present with a multitude of problems and complementary therapy seeks to address each problem using a comprehensive and collaborative treatment approach. A detailed list of types of therapies used, precautions, and indications is provided.
Interventions -
  1. Alexander technique-works through self-education of posture to harmonise the mind and body
  2. Aromatherapy-form of herbal medicine using message with essential oils
  3. Art therapy-allows clients to express feelings non-verbally
  4. Homeopathy-uses small doses of an individually prescribed remedy to relieve symptoms which would have been caused by a larger dose
  5. Naturopathy-mobilizes the body’s natural healing forces
  6. Occupational therapy-provides rehabilitation through functional activities
  7. Osteopathy-works through the spine and other joints, but uses a holistic approach
  8. Physiotherapy-works with physical techniques such as manipulation and mobilization, exercise, message, breathing re-education, and electrical treatment
  9. Reflexology-works on the principle that the whole body is represented on the feet.
Assessment - To build the trust of the patient the physical therapist may have no physical contact during the first visit and pain of any sort is always going to be avoided.  Victims of torture often present with postural abnormalities and gait deviations.
Treatment - Precautions when treating survivors are to avoid electrical treatment in those who have suffered electrical shocks, ice if they have had cold torture, and any use of water if they have been subject to near-drowning.  Acupuncture is not used because it cannot be guaranteed to be pain free.  Manipulation is used only for selected people because the noise can sound like joints dislocating.  There is not traction couch because many of the victims have been tied down.
Complementary Therapy for Specific Problems-
  • Falanga-electrical treatment, deep message, strapping, re-education of posture and gait and a programme of home exercises.
  • Suspension-treatment aimed at reducing abnormal muscle tone, mobilizing appropriate joints and providing a program of exercise.
  • Hyperventilation syndrome-physical therapy techniques were relaxation, breathing awareness, visualization, abdominal breathing, and yoga breathing techniques.
  • Pain-relaxation, breathing control, and message may assist the client to express emotional pain, leading to relief of physical pain.
  • Stress-exercise is combined with relaxation.


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