EPISODE 40 – HANS VAN HELVOIRT, PART 1: A JOURNEY WITH EXPERT MENTORS AND DEVELOPING A DREAM PRACTICE

Hans van Helvoirt M.A., Dip MDT/MT

Mr. Hans van Helvoirt graduated from the International Academy for Physical therapy in Utrecht, the Netherlands in 1986. In 1991 he finished his Manual Therapy Training in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. In the early nineties he worked in private physical therapy practice focusing on spinal problems.  After completing the Diploma program in Wellington, New Zealand in 92, he started teaching MDT, first in the Benelux and later on in several European countries. In the mid nineties he did his Masters of Arts in Psychology. Hans is now working in a transdisciplinary setting in pain management in the Netherlands and is involved in different research projects focusing on combining MDT and anesthesiology.

Personal Background

Hans lives in Belgium but is from the Netherlands. He grew up on a farm in the south of the country which he feels privileged to have had that upbringing. Early on Hans thought he would go into sports training or coaching. Instead he chose physical therapy although he’s not sure why.

Professional Background

After his professional training it was required that he either go into military service or social service.

Hans spent some time working in a nursing home and while he didn’t feel he wanted to stay in that population working he still is glad he did that because of what he learned from them. He was more interested in private practice in orthopedics and pursued that environment.

Hans began Maitland manual therapy courses because he didn’t feel confident treating spine problems. He actually studied under Geoffrey Maitland for a few months and Hans was very impressed with him, especially in his listening skills.

When Hans finished, Mr. Maitland encouraged Hans to study McKenzie, Edwards and Mulligan. Hans pursued his diploma in manual therapy first and then took courses in Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy. About that time David Butler came and taught in that area and Hans was asked to travel with him for one month to assist him on his courses. This was right before Hans travelled to Wellington, New Zealand to begin the Diploma program in the McKenzie Institute. Hans was impressed upon witnessing Robin McKenzie treat chronic pain patients and use self-care techniques which he felt he was missing.

Hans’ practice consisting of so many chronic pain patients and his interest in improving his skills interacting with the patient led him to complete a Master’s in psychology as well.

A Memorable Patient

Hans, while teaching a course was having trouble finding a patient to treat, was asked to see a physician’s patient, a young lady scheduled to have lumbar surgery in two days. Her response was surprising to the patient and his audience and even Hans. That experience opened many doors for his practice and business relationships since.  Hans is a partner in an interdisciplinary practice including manual medicine doctor, a rheumatologist, a neurologist, anesthesiologist and radiologist.

They have a CT scanner and MRI. The practice is built around the mechanical medicine doctor exam and the McKenzie assessment. Hans will be presenting additional data at the 13th International McKenzie Institute highlighting some of the work he’s been collecting in that practice.

A Relevant Quote

Upon spending time with Dr. Charles Aprill in New Orleans, Dr. Aprill told Hans,

“The MRI will tell the truth, nothing but the truth, but NOT the whole truth.”

Another quote Hans remembers is, “The tissue is not the issue.”