TL 14

Tom LaFountain

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The PGA Tour is in Detroit this week. A new venue that has triggered a thought of a recent experience. While at lunch at the US Open in Pebble Beach a couple of weeks ago I had an enjoyable conversation with one of the great golf instructors on the PGA Tour Butch Harmon. Butch has been winding down his schedule out here on tour over the past few months. At the request of Dustin Johnson he came out for what is more than likely his last time at the US Open.

I worked directly with Butch when he was with Phil Mickelson. I always enjoyed comparing my clinical findings and treatments on Phil with what Butch was seeing with Phil's swing and changes he was implementing. Fortunately they both correlated well. Butch was always very supportive and open minded with my clinical work. He appreciated that our ideas were similar with the objective of improving Phil's performance.

Butch was a excellent at watching how the golfer moved and how it related to the result. How the ball came off the club, moved through the air and  where it landed were important factors he was very aware of. He appreciated the advent of computer technology and the data it provided regarding the golf swing. However he was more concerned with real visual factors that reflected what was actually occurring. Functional information that would give him a more comprehensive evaluation of what was going on with the players swing.

His experiences hit me as being similar to what healthcare has gone through over the past few years. Doctors have come to rely on computers and advanced technology to diagnose orthopedic conditions. The capability of MRI and CT scan technology is incredible but it is not 100% accurate. To those with a thorough education in physical assessment procedures and clinical manual skills advanced testing is often performed to confirm what we have found on our examination. It allows the clinician to delineate the severity of damage. In the field of sports medicine many times advanced testing is not even available.

To be able to secure advanced information on a particular neuromusculoskeletal condition is valuable. To be able to accurately provide a visual, functional physical assessment and implement an effective hands on treatment protocol is irreplaceable. 

Butch was a master at functionally evaluating his PGA golfers regarding their golf swings. It was a fresh reminder that we must be masters at functionally assessing and treating the physical conditions that challenge all PGA golfers. Computer technology is great but it does not provide the visual and manual information necessary for effective sports medicine care.


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