Emily Southby knows what it’s like to live with chronic pain. But rather than let it overcome her, Emily has turned her personal journey through trauma to recovery into a rewarding career in manual osteopathy. She is now using her experience and expertise to help others overcome pain and injury, having recently joined the multidisciplinary team at ProActive Rehab in Huntsville.
Emily’s healing journey informs her practice and gives her a deeper insight into her clients’ experiences. In 2015, she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a snowboarding accident that left her with severe and debilitating symptoms including chronic migraines, muscle weakness and fatigue. She went from being an active, independent, full-time university student with plans to pursue nursing to having to put her education on hold and move in with a friend who helped care for her.
Desperate for a treatment that could provide some relief, Emily recalled that her sister benefited from osteopathy after sustaining a concussion. So, she sought out a manual osteopathic practitioner and saw improvement during her very first appointment. She continued treatment for the next six months, seeing steady and encouraging progress in pain level and functionality. She was eventually able to return to York University to complete her degree in Kinesiology and Health Science, followed by a DOMP from the National Academy of Osteopathy.
Manual osteopathy uses non-invasive, hands-on techniques such as stretching, joint mobilizations, massage techniques, muscle conditioning, lymphatic drainage, and education around diet, exercise and lifestyle to restore the body’s balance. Practitioners use a specialized diagnostic skill called osteopathic palpation to detect problems in tissues or body systems by investigating things like heat signatures, temperature differences, blood flow and tissue response.
“I’m looking for asymmetry or restrictions in the body, and looking to reduce those so that it can function at its best,” Emily says. “The body has the ability to self-regulate and self-heal. Osteopathy can help to erase physical or emotional trauma that the body has experienced, and help it get back to where it wants to be.”
Manual Osteopathy is often used to treat disorders that affect the nerves, muscles and skeleton, such as concussions, head, neck and back injuries, sciatica, and sports injuries, but is also effective at treating more complex issues like chronic pain, fibromyalgia, irregular sleep cycles, digestive issues, autoimmune disorders, and TMJ (jaw pain). As well, compounded injuries caused by the body compensating for other injuries can see significant improvement through osteopathy.
During their first appointment, Emily’s clients typically work through a comprehensive intake that covers previous injuries, surgeries or traumas, medical history, lifestyle factors and current life circumstances. Emily then observes the body’s structure and range of motion, completes a palpation assessment, and recommends further treatment based on her observations. Since osteopathy is a personalized approach to care that focuses on the whole person, treatment is different for every patient.
“Osteopathy is gentle and generally pain-free—I won’t put you in pain to reduce pain” says Emily. “I won’t take your body past its natural range of motion, but I can help correct past negative structural patterns. The idea is to help the body to find a new postural place to be. Once the body is back in balance, it wants to stay there.”
Emily is thrilled to join the team at ProActive Rehab. She particularly enjoys the cooperative environment and the learning opportunities. “Leslie, the clinic’s owner, is very open to learning about osteopathy and is great at mentoring and teaching. Everyone here is working towards a shared vision: to provide the best treatment for our patients.”
Emily is currently accepting new clients, and has appointments available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the ProActive Rehab clinic. To book an appointment, click here.