Slap happy: One physical therapist wants to smack your chronic pain away

WASHINGTON – Slapping and prodding might not be what first comes to mind when considering treatments for chronic pain, but a local physical therapist is demonstrating his unique technique to the public this weekend.

Physical therapist and acupuncturist Andrew Bloch is hosting a “Bloch the Pain” event at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland, to benefit veteran charities. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, visitors will be able to see and feel Bloch’s Reflexive Pattern Therapy™ (RPT) in person.

It starts with Bloch seeking out particular areas of the body that may be tender, for example, and then he stimulates reflexes through a slapping motion.

“What I’m doing is through patterns of understanding and through years of trial and error, I figured out what needs to be stimulated utilizing reflexes. And the really cool part about it is when people come in and they have pain, literally within a couple of minutes their pain is gone,” Bloch explained. “That doesn’t mean it’s a cure; it’s more curative. It means they can feel better, and then we can start to work on … their strength, their posture, their flexibility.”

WTOP reached out to local medical centers to get their take on RPT™.

“We at Adventist Healthcare Rehabilitation really treat the whole person. And when we get into treating somebody for pain and musculoskeletal issues, we concentrate on the focal point of pain but then we’re concentrating on all the other areas of the body that may tap into it. And I believe this treatment is one conceptually that is also trying to do that,” said Dr. Terrence Sheehan, Chief Medical Officer of Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation. “When we think about acupuncture, we are tapping into a system that we really have not been able to fully understand but what we have clearly understood is this has had positive effects on different patients.”

Like chiropractic treatment or acupuncture, RPT™ is not something that is federally-regulated and it is a relatively new therapeutic approach. Patients are medically cleared before beginning RPT™, and Bloch is licensed in Maryland as a physical therapist and an acupuncturist. MedStar National Rehabilitation Network told WTOP that there is not yet enough research.

“This is not a treatment that MedStar National Rehabilitation Network utilizes with its patients. Our physical therapists and physicians prefer to treat patients using evidence-based methods. We do not currently have enough knowledge of this type of therapy to utilize it with our patients. We believe more research is needed about this type of therapy first,” Derek Berry, spokesperson for MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, said in a statement.

It only takes Bloch a few minutes to do the technique. Once a patient is relieved of pain, he said that’s when they should continue to work on their ailments through physical therapy and other routes.

Retired Army Special Forces Colonel John Fenzel is a new patient at Bloch’s Pain Arthritis Relief Center in Rockville. Thirty years in the Army, jumping out of airplanes and hauling a 150-pound rucksack for years left him with chronic back pain. Fenzel had tried a variety of treatments, from prescribed drugs to holistic therapies, and found immediate relief with RPT™.

“I think it’s strange, probably for anybody,” Fenzel laughed. “But the reassuring thing for me was as I was being treated, Andrew was giving me … a good commentary. ‘This is going to be tender, this is not.’ Then you start to realize that this is working, not just after the fact – but also during the fact. And so, I am going to keep coming back.”

Saturday’s “Bloch the Pain” event is a chance to try RPT™, with donations benefiting three military charities: The Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Second Chance, and Platoon 22 Tribe Fight.

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