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Using EFT For ...

Using EFT for Physical Therapy

Using EFT for Physical Therapy

Dear EFT Community,

Physical therapy can be greatly assisted by EFT, as it can reduce the emotional issues that surround the injury or limitation.

-Dawson Church

By CJ Puotinen, EFT-ADV

Five months ago, 55-year-old Irene Mitchell’s car was broadsided by a truck. The crash left her with bruised ribs, contusions, a shattered left hip, and a shattered femur. She lost half her blood volume and was not expected to live. Surgery repaired her hip with a stainless steel shaft, three pins, and screws. A week after the accident, she was sent to an acute-care rehabilitation facility, and 3 weeks after that, she was moved to the Ramapo Manor Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in Suffern, New York.

My husband and I volunteer at the nursing home, which is how we got to know Irene. Four months after the accident, I mentioned teaching an EFT seminar. She was curious and interested. Because she wasn’t able to attend, I offered to give her a quick course.

The following Monday evening, I met with Irene and another lady in a private room at the nursing home. First I demonstrated the basic protocol (including tapping on top of the head) as part of a breathing exercise. Irene’s friend was surprised at how much easier and deeper her breathing became, but Irene, an experienced meditator and deep breather, didn’t notice much difference. I suggested we try a range-of-motion exercise. Irene chose her left leg for this experiment, explaining that while lying on her back, she could not raise it at all. Her physical therapist wanted her to exercise the leg, but it wouldn’t move. I asked if she would like to lie on the bed to do this and she said that reclining in the wheelchair would produce similar results. She slid into a 45-degree diagonal position and was able to raise her left leg about 5 inches.

The three of us tapped the Karate Chop point together, saying:

  • Even though my leg is stuck and won’t move…
  • Even though I’m terrified of being stuck here the rest of my life because my leg won’t move…
  • Even though my stuck leg is keeping me stuck in this wheelchair, I love and forgive myself, I forgive anyone who had anything to do with my being here, and I choose to let all this restriction go and enjoy a strong left leg.

After three rounds of tapping the head and torso points, first using the Reminder Phrase “stuck leg,” then in the second round, “strong leg,” then alternating between “stuck leg” and “strong leg,” she leaned back to try again. This time her left foot rose 2 to 3 inches higher.

That was progress, but her discomfort was obvious. I asked, “What’s restricting your movement?” and she answered, “The pain.”

So we tapped on the pain, this time moving more quickly through the Setup phrase and tapping points. After about a minute of tapping, she leaned back to try again. Her left foot slowly rose to where it had been at the start, then to where it was after the first session, then up to her waist, then past her shoulder level and, finally, above the level of her head, until it was pointing almost straight at the ceiling.

Startled, she lowered her leg, sat up, and asked, “Did that really happen?” We assured her it had, so she reclined again and raised her leg to the ceiling six or eight times. Then she sat up and burst into tears. “It was a frightening moment,” she says. “I actually got scared, it was so unexpected. There is simply no way you can do something like that with an injury as serious and recent as this one.”

I gave Irene and her friend seminar handouts, including tapping charts to help them remember the sequence.

Two weeks later, Irene reported, “The EFT has made such a difference! When I tap, my leg feels as light as a feather. It doesn’t have that horrible heavy feeling, and there’s no pain. I still can’t believe it. Whenever I hear about miracles, I’m always skeptical, but it happened to me, so I can’t ignore it. I’m still trying to make sense of it.”

After tapping, Irene can lift her leg while lying on her back as well as when seated. “The ability to lift it high,” she says, “lasts about half an hour. Even then, the pain isn’t bad. It takes another hour for the pain to return, and as soon as that happens, I just tap again.”

Irene progressed from spending most of her day in a wheelchair to walking several times a day with a walker. “I was doing so well,” she said, “that my physical therapist decided it was time to start walking with a quad cane. That’s a four-footed cane with gripper feet for keeping your balance. I tried, but it was exceptionally painful. I broke out in a sweat so that my clothes were dripping, and my whole body shook. Until that point, I hadn’t shared any of my EFT adventures with my therapist. This is my business, and I like my privacy. But on my second day with the quad cane, which was yesterday, the pain was so awful that I stopped and told Ivan that I’d like to do an experiment. I told him to ignore me for a minute because I’m going to look silly and sound silly, but just let me do my thing. He said okay and waited politely while I tapped on how much I hate the pain, the pain is terrible, the pain limits my ability to walk, I want the pain to go away. Then I did a totally positive statement about how I’m free from pain and I will walk with the cane. Then on the third round I alternated back and forth. The final thing I said was that even though I had this pain, which I put in the past tense, I truly and deeply love myself, and even if it comes back, I accept myself, forgive myself, and forgive anyone who had anything to do with this pain. I said that I want to release this pain and I will release this pain, I’m releasing it, it’s gone. Then I stood up.” 

Irene started to cry at this point and explained that her progress was still a very emotional issue. “I stood up, and I just started walking with the cane, big giant steps. I asked Ivan if he could see me taking these big, big steps, and his eyes got very wide, he had an enormous smile on his face, and he kept asking, ‘What did you do? What did you do?’ I said, `I’m walking with a cane!’

“When you start doing that,” she explained, “you have to set the quad cane down six inches in front of you. Then you move the leg that hurts while leaning on the cane, and then you move your good leg. It’s like learning how to walk all over again. Today before I walked with the cane I tapped, and not only did I take normal-sized steps, but I went a lot further in the therapy course. I did not have to put the cane down first, then my bad foot, then my good foot. I could pick up my affected leg and the cane at the same time, take a step, and then follow with my good leg. I walked 200 feet, which Ivan said compressed weeks of physical therapy into two days.”

Irene said she never ceases to be surprised at how well EFT works. It’s so easy to do that she has taught it to others. One of her friends at the facility, who is also in a wheelchair, was unable to lift her arm to shoulder height. “We did the whole series and she lifted her arm above her shoulder,” said Irene. “The increased range of motion surprised her, but what amazed her was that she did this with no pain. Then I asked her to pick up her foot, which she could barely do, getting it maybe 3 inches off the floor. We went through the sequence again and she lifted her leg up about 3 feet. She was shocked. She just couldn’t believe it.”

Irene’s therapists caution her that she will never regain all of her body strength or mobility. “Hah!” she said. “What do they know? I’m determined to leave here without a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair, and thanks to EFT, I’ll be doing that a lot sooner than anyone expected.”

EFT brought Irene some other unexpected benefits. “In 1995, I became disabled,” she explained, “and I could no longer work. I’ve had several abdominal surgeries, and I grow adhesions like wildfire. Several of the surgeries have been just to remove the adhesions, but they always come back. They have moved my organs into places where they don’t belong, they’ve wrapped themselves around my intestines and stomach, and I live in constant pain as a result. Morphine is the only thing that helps, so for years I lived on time-released morphine. My life was stressful, but after a while the stressful part of my life changed, so I was able to wean myself off of the morphine. I still had the pain, but the difference was that I could relax better, and I learned how to endure the pain. I continue to have it to this day, but when I tap about the pain in my hip and leg, that other pain goes away, too. I didn’t even think about it, so I didn’t think to tap on it, but that other pain is gone.”

Follow-up: 1 month later

Irene’s story has so intrigued a producer of public access cable TV programs that he is scheduling an interview with Irene for a program about EFT. He’d better move fast. Thanks to EFT, Irene’s stay at the nursing home has been shortened considerably. She no longer uses a walker or the quad cane but has graduated to a regular cane and hopes to walk without it soon. In addition, Ramapo Manor’s administrator, Marsha Squires, has asked me to conduct some EFT workshops for the facility’s residents and their families as well as the staff. There are probably hundreds of issues to tap on, but common themes for the residents include physical pain, limited range of motion, depression, frustration, anger, anxiety, and stress. We are calling EFT an activity (that is, a special event), which may help it reach a wider audience.

One week later…

Her progress has stunned her physical therapist and everyone else. She is already walking several feet at a time with no support (not holding on to anything, no cane, no walker). As a result of the injury, her left leg is shorter than her right, so she has been fitted with sandals of different heel thickness to steady her gait. She is already tapping on getting her left leg to grow so that it’s the same length as her right. Why not?


My husband and I are ballroom dancers, and every Thursday night we dance at Ramapo Manor. Irene never misses a session, and from the time we first met her, she has daydreamed about dancing with Joel. Well, tonight she did!

She later told us that she’d had an exhausting day. Her daughter took her to a restaurant for lunch, which was a major undertaking, then she had some intense physical therapy, so by the time we arrived, she was tired and in pain. But the music got to her, and when Joel put a slow rumba on and offered his hand, she started tapping. EFT tapping, that is, not just toe tapping. Within a minute, she was free of pain and able to walk, with a little help from her cane, into his arms. The next thing we knew, she was dancing. This was very exciting, and several nurses and aides ran down the hall to watch. Irene loves to dance, and it shows. She barely used her cane at all, mostly for balance, and she had such a wonderful time, I just had to add this happy postscript. It won’t be long before she dances right out of the nursing home!