PD profile: Shaun O'Leary


Shaun O’Leary will co-present ‘The Complete and Advanced Upper Cervical Spine and Head’ next month in Sydney. Shaun will deliver the motor function and training component of the course.

Who is the course aimed at and who will benefit most from attending?

The course is aimed at experienced, tilted or trainee specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapists. Participants will benefit if they have some experience in managing upper cervical spine disorders and come to the course with questions about difficult patients.

What are some key elements participants can expect from attending? Key elements of this course include advance differential diagnosis of headaches (eg, secondary/red flag headaches, headaches due to musculoskeletal conditions such as cervicogenic, temporomandibular disorders and tension-type headaches) as well as more common presenting headaches such as migraine and cranial neuralgias. This is one of the few courses that covers advanced differential diagnosis of dizziness spanning cervicogenic, vestibular and central causes.

The presenters are all specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapists, with a vestibular physiotherapist also presenting. All presenters have extensive teaching and research appointments at leading Australian universities with their focus on cervical spine disorders.

How does this course build on what is covered in APA’s Spinal physiotherapy part A (cervical) course?

The part A cervical is a basic course designed for entry-level physiotherapists and would be a great pre-requisite for this course. The advanced course builds on this foundation knowledge by introducing more complex differential diagnosis, and more complex cases. We also cover comprehensive assessment of systems not covered in the Part A course such as pain sensitivity and psychological assessment. The course also includes a live patient assessment, which is always well received.

Are you able to provide some insights into the broader range of manual therapy techniques that will be learned in this particular course?

This course focuses on the upper cervical spine and will cover manual therapy techniques that have origins in osteopathy as well as Mulligan-based techniques (eg, sustained natural apophyseal glides) used for the upper cervical spine.

What are some of the common challenges with assessing and managing motor impairment and performance in cervical spine disorders and how will this course help improve these skills?

A challenge in the management of neck disorders is the early identification of key movement impairments and functional deficits that underlie the patient’s disorder. These can often be addressed with exercise. The key to successful exercise prescription is to provide specific but simple exercises that are manageable for the patient, adequately progressed, and meet the patients’ individual needs. This course will draw on knowledge from research, applied anatomy and clinical expertise to enhance knowledge regarding the unique characteristics of the cervical vertebral column and cervical musculature, in states of health and impairment, that underpin a systematic approach to the assessment and rehabilitation of cervical motor function.

Is there an interesting fact associated with this course that might surprise participants?

Participants often struggle how to consolidate learning and put the information together. At the end of this course they often have the ‘ah-ha’ moment where they understand how it all fits.

The complete and advanced upper cervical spine and head
29–31 March
Sydney, NSW

Click here for more information

Dr Shaun O’Leary is a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist (as awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2008).

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