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  • Writer's pictureJay Danto

Captain Nudge the Osteopathic Ninja

Over 20 years have passed while I have been practicing my craft of trying to understand the workings of people's bodies and influence them towards health. And, while I have met other osteopathic physicians like myself who have been trained to listen to the whisperings of the muscles, joints, nerves, and connective tissues I have noticed that we are a minority among even osteopathic physicians. We all play our roles and all of those roles have value, but those that follow the road less travelled, as I and my colleagues have, are like kicker's on a football team in a vast league of medical professionals. So, when I was first called "Captain Nudge" by a resident who was on a rotation in my practice it took me a moment to digest the concept.

At that time in my practice I was very focused on not forcing the body to do things it didn't want to do. I would tell my patients, students, and residents that I set things up very nicely for the body to do what it is supposed to do and then I give it a nudge in the right direction. That was quite different than what the comparatively less experienced students and residents had learned in their training which involves looking for improper functioning of a joint, muscle, or connective tissue and then "fix" them by actively taking the structure through the restricted motion barrier. These days I feel that I try to go beyond nudging the structures towards health and my focus is more on asking people's bodies how can I help them do what they really want to do. More often than not, in asking a person's body what it wants to do and assisting its performance of that request the result is improved health.

The process of helping people's bodies do what they want to do feels from the patient's perspective as if I'm doing nothing at all. It feels like I'm just holding on to their body. To make it even more absurd, I often have people move in ways that cause their body to release dysfunction on its own and for the patient to consequently feel better. And since I'm essentially perceived as doing nothing I tell people that I am like a ninja sneaking around within their body and initiating change towards health. They often feel improved and unsure of how their bodies have been changed. It is only later that they become aware of the changes that I had assisted their bodies in performing. This sometimes comes to their attention as feeling much better or it may feel like they are sore in.a different or similar way. If the later is the case they usually notice a day or two after the treatment that they feel much improved.

When I first started in practice I had barely a clue of what it took to understand what people's bodies were trying to communicate. I listened with great intent and had both a good foundation, as well as some illusions of what I was supposed to be doing. Fortunately, I learned patience from my patients who were very patient with me as they saw progress and hope replacing pain and hopelessness.

Talk to anyone over 50 years old and they will tell you that a quarter of a century can pass in the blink of an eye. And in that blink of an eye I've become far more patient. I still worry incessantly about my patients and I want them to feel better almost as much as they yearn for that themselves. However, much of my worries have been alleviated and buttressed by years of experience with the knowledge that I am able to feel the changes in a patient's joints, muscles, and tissues usually before they perceive of any positive result themselves. In summary, Captain Nudge lives on to work as an Osteopathic ninja sneaking around within the body's of his patients to encourage health, positive change, and THRIVING!

Image found on Google designated as Creative Commons and downloaded on 11/21/22 from

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