What is Structural Medicine?

Structural Medicine is a type of bodywork that brings change to connective tissue or “fascia”. The practitioner applies hands-on pressure to lengthen, differentiate and restore original shape to the body and balance to the structure. The evaluation process includes a postural analysis to help assess how a person may have become “stuck” in an incorrect position over time from physical or emotional injury, work situations or leisure activities.

A tool unique to Structural Medicine is called Myofascial Length Testing (MFLT). This is an objective way to test the tightness of body areas and their overall relationship to each other. Not only are the test results important in forming a treatment plan, they are also a good way to monitor progress for the client, referring doctors, and insurance companies.

Unlike Massage, Structural Medicine treatment is not passive. Movement is used during treatment to bring awareness to tight or weak areas. Movement is also part of the retraining process to help with changing old patterns. Finally, dialogue between the practitioner and the client is used during the session to bring awareness to places where muscles may be overworking and to identify where we hold stress. Increased self-awareness and a home program are essential to long term results. This can include movement pattern exercises, stretching, self-release and strengthening.

Begin with the end in mind
— Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Structural Medicine can help with:

  • Reducing pain from muscle soreness, trauma, scar or surgery

  • Improving range of motion

  • Freedom of movement, balance and posture

  • Becoming more aware of your body

Fascia, Fascia everywhere

Fascia is collagen based connective tissue that is web-like in appearance. Connective tissue is the most abundant tissue in the body. It provides support, fills spaces, stores fat and helps with forming scars. Think 3 dimensionally and picture the roots of a plant. This is what our connective tissue looks like. Depending on its location in the body the collagen fibers or “roots” may be more loose, layered or compact. The fluid around the fibers carries waste away from and brings nutrients into the area.


Fascia has a unique ability to adapt to its environment. Adaptive shortening or gluing can occur from overuse, imbalanced movements, trauma, disease and age. The end result can limit length, glide and impair the strength and force us to compensate our movements.


Conditions that would benefit from therapy:

  • Tendinitis

  • Bursitis

  • Cumulative trauma

  • Arthritis

  • Nerve compression (Carpal Tunnel syndrome)

  • Scar adhesions/scar

  • Prolonged immobilization after surgery

  • Pain that does not follow a common pattern for a known diagnosis

Occupational Therapy is covered under many insurance plans.

What is a Certified Hand Therapist?

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupation therapist or physical therapist who has  a minimum of five years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of changes in the profession, every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.

- Source: Hand Therapy Certification Commission


Traditional hand therapy is excellent for people who have just had surgery. Hand Therapy includes:

  • Splint fabrication for prevention or correction of injury

  • Acute care after surgery for swelling, pain and wounds

  • Education regarding recovery after surgery


About Erin

Erin completed her Occupational Therapy Degree in 1990 at the University of Puget Sound. She received her Certified Hand Therapy accreditation in 2005. She then completed a structural integration program called Structural Medicine, this is a 2,108 hour program based on the teachings from Ida Rolf and Joseph Heller. Erin’s professional experience has led her to appreciate the complexity of the body as a whole and that rehabilitation does not just involve the area of injury.

Erin has a love for movement and exercise. She began ballet at a young age and went on a to study ballet in the University of Utah Fine Arts program. She then taught and performed for several years. She has continued with running, hiking, bicycling,and most recently added Salsa dancing.

“I believe that we have a lifelong commitment to health and wellness. If we practice awareness and are open to change then we will always be able lead an active and rich life.”

~Erin M. Duffy

Our Office

1818 South Union, Suite 1B
Tacoma, WA 98405

Phone: (253) 678-9218

Fax: (253) 314-5813

Email: psstructuralmed@gmail.com



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