Vol. 19 • Issue 25
• Page 28
"Now, that's a great idea!" Have you ever had that thought run through your mind? Whether it's popped in after looking at someone else's invention or after coming up with one of your own, we have likely all brainstormed something unique at one point in our lives.
What makes one person's invention stand out is the test of time. And that is something John F. Iams, MA, PT, knows well.
Approximately 20 years ago, Iams created the Pivotal Therapy System in response to problems his patients had with specific areas of the spinal column and as a whole. Not only did the invention take off, it is currently sold worldwide and used by practitioners in all areas of musculoskeletal and pain practice.
The Man Behind the System
Iams was born in San Diego, CA, where he lived until he was accepted into the Physical Therapy Program at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco (USC).
Upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Navy for three years as a physical therapist during the Vietnam War. As the chief PT at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station Hospital, Iams continued to serve his patients, practice his craft and continue his search for rapid pain relief techniques.
He returned to graduate school at USC to earn his master's degree in PT and moved on to serve as the director of the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at San Diego City College. Three years later he returned to patient care and opened his own private practice, Physical Therapy Institute, Inc. in Poway, CA. Iams sold his practice in 2005.
Still in Poway, Iams currently serves as president of SuperSpine, Inc., a seminar and home study course company addressing musculoskeletal pain.
ADVANCE: What is a typical day like for you?
Iams: I see a few patients a month but most of my days are spent teaching and researching how to get faster and more lasting results with patients. I like to spend my day researching the fastest ways to permanently release pain by reading, surfing the Internet and networking with experts in the field of pain relief.
ADVANCE: As someone so involved in the field, do you have any thoughts of where PT is headed?
Iams: I see progressively more competition for chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, personal trainers, and physician-owned PT practices to obtain patients. The successful future of our profession will be tied to direct access and the ability to bill insurance carriers without a written prescription. If we don't achieve this ability to direct our own destiny, we'll struggle more as time goes by.
ADVANCE: What would you tell others coming into the field of PT?
Iams: Be prepared for the field of those who treat pain to become more crowded and competitive. You shouldn't consider the profession unless you're going to commit to be the best in your community, as judged by your reputation.
Iams knows about commitment. His determination and passion to alleviate the pain of his patients led to the creation of the Pivotal Therapy System.
When the idea came about, Iams envisioned a system of individual components, which he refers to as "pivots," that could address portions of the spine, i.e., occipital release versus being able to treat the entire spine with the patient lying comfortably. The idea was a success and took off when the Chattanooga Group, a manufacturer of rehabilitation equipment, released it.
ADVANCE: How did the idea come about?
Iams: I became convinced more than two decades ago that adaptively slumped posture was a contributing factor in the perpetuation of pain. I found many patients didn't enjoy lasting relief from their pain until this issue was addressed, even with the best manual skills, modalities and other exercise programs. I was certain that many patients would benefit from increasing their spinal mobility.
ADVANCE: What were the first steps?
Iams: My system was conceived and designed to be the first-of-its-kind orthotics with a movement option for specific areas or the entire spine. I envisioned a system of individual components that could be used with the patient lying comfortably. I evolved a series of pivots for the suboccipital region, cervical, thoracic and lumbar spines.
ADVANCE: How does it work?
Iams: The Pivotal Therapy System allows for a mixing and matching, if you will, of various foam pivots. I designed them so patients could simply lie on them and use their body weight to help alleviate stiffness, tension, aches and pains, and improve postural alignment. Using the cervical, thoracic and lumbar pivots addresses the entire spine with the occipivot being the sub-occipital release tool. To my knowledge, no other system has ever been available to address the entire spine in a manner similar to my Pivotal Therapy System.
The Future Looks Bright
Iams also developed a series of exercise programs the patient can perform while lying comfortably on the pivots. As if that weren't enough, Iams found even more success with the Primal Reflex Release Technique™. The technique releases facilitated muscle and joint protective reflexes, leaving patients relieved of pain. It has been taught to more than 1,000 practitioners worldwide in his seminar and home study course business.
With a background of education and a successful business, it is amazing Iams has time for anything else. His emphasis has shifted from product design to evolving the next generation of rapid approaches to permanently relieve pain. This is done in the form of seminars that Iams teaches and several home study courses he has created to save practitioners from needing to travel.
When he is not researching, practicing or teaching, Iams enjoys reading, walking his dog Rudy with wife Vonnie, and watching sports, especially college football and basketball. Vonnie works closely with Iams, as does one of their three sons, Craig, in running SuperSpine, Inc. It is no wonder Iams has found his calling and success.
"The fact that the Pivotal Therapy System has enjoyed nearly two decades of sales and the last two years being better than ever is validation of the positive feedback both patients and practitioners have," said Iams. "The results have been beyond my wildest expectation as many patients had dramatic improvement with just a single brief session."
To learn more about the Pivotal Therapy System or the Primal Reflex Release Technique™, visit www.theprrt.com
Lauren Himiak is a freelance writer for ADVANCE.