Episode 2 - Robert Medcalf: Everything for the Patient

Robert Medcalf, instructor with the McKenzie Institute for over 20 years and lecturer nationally and internationally.  Trained under Robin McKenzie

Professional Background

His introduction to physical therapy as his uncle was a PT.  Happened upon a McKenzie course and that course changed his life and direction of his career as he was amazed to see rapid changes in the patients.

Assisted in starting a conservative spine program with Dr. Ron Donelson.  Received his training in New Zealand under Robin McKenzie.  His mentors he noted were great listeners,  very efficient in getting to the problem and keen clinical observers.

In observing Robin McKenzie, he learned to use every patient interaction as a learning opportunity.

A meaningful quote to Robert is “Everything we do should be for the patient”

Greatest challenge to mechanical care clinician is the current procedure or time based reimbursement model.  He sees close watch on function rating as critical for proper patient management.

Robert reflects on a memorable patient who achieved a life changing response resolving a disabling headache history.

He shares analogies he uses to help educate his patients  on proper neck posture and feedback techniques to assist the lumbar patients needing additional help with posture correction.

A difficult lesson on interupting the patient and what turned out to be one of the best pieces of advice that he’s ever been given has been “Let the patient tell the story.”

A good resource Robert uses for patient education is much of the content on Spine Universe.

A recent study that has recently challenged and affected his daily clinical practice is found here:


His response to patients that ask him, “Don’t you want to see my images?” is “I’d rather see you…”

In Roberts opinion it is important to  never view the algorithm of movements used in MDT as a series of “tricks” to fix the patient.

He’s improved in his own practice by getting the thoracic spine moving when working with cervical spine patients and getting better at sorting out derangements in the extremities.

He believes that it’s important to explore the unexpected forces when the patient fails to respond to the typical and common procedures illustrating this with a quote from Robin McKenzie “If we walk down the same path as those gone before us without deviation we see the exact same scenery.”

His personal habit that he believes contributes to his success is his consistency with distance running.

Robert is excite about the further progress in courses including advanced extremity course (Part E).

He also offers an invitation to see patients with him if you’re ever in the Atlanta area.

You can reach him at rmedcalf@bellsouth.net