Head of the Service:Gabi Seiler
The physiotherapeutic approach is based on the scientific assumption demonstrated by various researches that through the body various psychological disorders are expressed. The latter is therefore elevated to the main object of physiotherapy intervention; using the various techniques of body therapy it is possible to access the various levels of psychological suffering, offering an integrative way to pharmacological and psychological treatments. This is crucial for those patients who do not have strong mentalisation skills and therefore unable to communicate their discomfort in verbal and/or relational form.
Here is a list of the services provided by the Physiotherapy Department of the Clinica Santa Croce:
The physiotherapeutic intervention in psychiatry is based on the assumption that the body is involved in the processes related to psychic disorders: “the body is our vehicle of being in the world” (Merleau-Ponty, 1979:83), and a body-mediated approach contributes to modify the person’s perception of his own suffering. The body tells the patient’s life and the somatic symptom is often a coherent expression of it. Psychic discomfort transfigures the body, imprisons it in altered schemes, confuses its signals. The therapist and the patient, working together, try to restore the dialogue between mind and body that the mental disorder has made obscure and incomprehensible and has sometimes interrupted. Physiotherapy intervention helps to restore or increase the patient’s bodily and emotional awareness, as well as the ability to express emotions and, consequently, to establish appropriate interpersonal relationships. With various physiotherapy techniques and their holistic vision that consider the person as a unitary system composed of muscles, skeletal structures, connective tissue, internal organs and psycho-emotional aspects, the patient is approached. The aim of this approach is to read and grasp the bodily manifestation of psychic discomfort and act to reduce physical symptoms while bringing psychic-emotional benefit.
Massage is the oldest therapy technique that man has used to treat illness and is one of the most natural gestures to soothe pain and psycho-body discomfort. Massage is a healing technique that regenerates the body and spirit of man. The various techniques applied help to preserve psychic well-being by easing muscular and mental tensions in almost all psychiatric pathologies. Reflexive mechanical effects benefit the neurological and psychological systems. The body approach in massage therapy is considered by the psychiatric patient as:
- a modality that allows the subject to re-construct his/her own identity
- an important communication channel that fosters relationships
- an intervention that “brings back” the person to the first sensory experiences
- a form of emotional support and nurturing
- a way to recompose the fragmentation related to some forms of psychic discomfort
The psychiatric patient experiences the bodily care of massage as a beneficial and healthy treatment that touches the somatic sphere and the emotional-relational dimensions.
In the body moves an energy charge that activates the various tissues and muscles, giving rise in the individual what are called sensations.
Depression and anxiety can be defined and expressed in a decrease in energy that can occur for various reasons; the body becomes unable to respond with appropriate impulses to external events and the surrounding environment. The individual feels deprived of his natural energy charge, becoming unable to interact and respond to external stimuli.
There is therefore no disorder that involves only the psychic part without being reflected in the physical component of the individual. Foot reflexology works through micro-stimulation of the various corresponding areas of the sole of the foot in order to free the “stasis”, that is, a blockage of the energy flow that prevents free circulation. It stimulates the circulation, the nervous system and the immune system helping to combat the momentary “weakness” of responding adequately to internal and external stimuli of the person.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Lymphatic drainage is a technique based on manual manipulation of the body that is practiced similar to a massage, acting specifically on the path of the flow of lymphatic vessels with a number of benefits.
This massage produces several beneficial effects in the psychiatric patient: from the vegetative one that has to take place slowly in a repetitive way affecting the parasympathetic nervous system with consequent relaxation of the muscles. A generalized relaxing action produced by the light, delicate and rhythmic movements with which it is practiced. Pleasant and desired by people with edema after invasive surgery or psycho-body trauma suffered.
During therapy, silence and listening to the rhythms and tonic dialogue established in the body relationship is essential. The idiosyncrasy of being touched or feeling one’s own body represents an important therapeutic element. The wise and neutral touch of the therapist and the flow of the lymph in aspiration, evoke deep sensations in the person under treatment.
Hydromassage and Mud therapy
Hydromassage is a pressurised water micro-massage that exploits the temperature of the water and its benefits, together with air bubbles and water flows, to give our body an energising and stimulating massage.
The tubs also use hydrosonic massage technology, which represents the evolution of hydromassage. This solution combines the traditional hydromassage of water and air with the beneficial action of a beam of ultrasounds emitted by each nozzle.
From a biological point of view, the pressure of the massage on the body stimulates the release of endorphins that stimulate the nervous fibres and generate a sensation of pleasure and relaxation. The action of ultrasounds on the body has both a thermal effect, caused by vibrations on cellular structures, and a mechanical effect generated by a rapid sequence of compressions/dilations of the cells.
From a therapeutic point of view the hydromassage brings benefits to the blood and lymphatic circulation reducing the feeling of psycho-physical heaviness. With hydrosonic massage it is possible to carry out different massages with specific effects obtained by modifying the mode of emission of the ultrasounds and by a particular mixing of air-water, for example:
- massage aimed at loosening and relaxing contracted muscles
- massage to restore tone and energy and revitalize cellular metabolism
- anti-stress massage performs a micro cellular massage with relaxing function
Mud therapy has been used since ancient times to relax painful and tense muscles, probably because of its ability to improve blood flow and at the same time to reduce excessive tension on the nerve fibres that transmit pain.
From the biological point of view, paraffin heated by means of a heat convector at 55°C releases heat by conduction and has an effective thermal action.
From a therapeutic point of view, the hot pack has a strong anti-oedema action (against the accumulation of liquids); moreover, through the heating of the tissues, it determines the alleviation of the painful symptoms and the release of the contracted muscles, producing a feeling of relaxation and general well-being.