Having Coffee with Dr. Bahram Jam
Well, not quite coffee. Bahram had a mango smoothie and I had tea, but on July 17, 2015, I sat down with Bahram to ask him some questions about physiotherapy, research, his aspirations, and how he believes technology can play a role in rehabilitation.
Expand on your bio and tell us about your training and experience as a physiotherapist.
I love seeing patients but I see patients for 15 hours a week only. I realized that when you have a full day in patient care, the last thing you want to do is go home and read an article. Since I really enjoy both patient care and staying up to date with the evidence, I decided to be a messenger for physiotherapists by reading and summarizing research and teaching courses. I thought I could be more influential to patients if I teach many physios rather than seeing a full case-load of individual patients.
What's something you've recently learned that you're really excited to implement into your practice?
I just bought 4 new books about pain education that I am excited to read and implement into my practice. I would really like to expand on my book that I've previously written (The Pain Truth...and Nothing But!) to create a book that is a coffee table workbook for patients.
What does the next year look like for your professional life?
First and foremost I will continue teaching my courses. Every year I teach in every Canadian province and most territories and I don't foresee this year to be an exception.
I'm also planning on converting all of the courses that I have on DVDs to online programs. Coming to my courses are always the best option, but for those who aren't able to attend or who don't want to travel, the DVDs have been a great alternative. The online courses will be entertaining and interactive.
NB. All of Bahram Jam's online courses are available on Embodia Academy including some complementary ones.
What's something that you learned the hard way that you would like to share with others.
I learned the hard way that after 10 years of manual therapy, I couldn't feel 2mm of movement in between vertebrae. I felt inadequate as a physio that I couldn't feel anything but nobody was saying anything. Once I started to promote this notion, others started to speak up as well and now it has become a movement. It's irrelevant to feel the spinal movement as there's no validity. I am a fan of manual therapy but it should be for different reasons - primarily to give a neurophysiological response.
What has been one big 'Aha' moment for you in your professional life?
When I did my doctorate at Andrew's University, there was a functional physician that was teaching a medical screening course. My 'Aha' moment was when I learned from this physician that there is so much more to managing patients than manual therapy and exercise; for example, sleep, hydration, diet, anxiety, depression, etc. So I have incorporated addressing such psychosocial factors into my clinical work and courses that I teach. You can do all of the mobs and exercises you would like, but many patients won't get better because many other factors haven't been addressed.
What's one course or event that you're planning to attend that you're really looking forward to?
In August I'm doing a 1-week mindfulness meditation course created by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The hardest part of this course will be the last day, which will be a silent retreat - I haven't done that for 10 minutes in my life! Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix who is teaching this course will also be talking at the APTEI symposium in October. I believe that neuroplasticity and mindfulness are important to physio - being more in the present, being aware of your body and being aware of your movement.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received?
The best advice I have ever received was from a motivational tape I listened to 20 years ago: What job would you pay money to do? In essence, do what you love. This has worked out for me - I love talking so I thought when I heard this advice, that I would give anything to have enough knowledge to teach. I love what I do and, while I make money, I don't work for the money.
What's one book that you think other practitioners should read?
Explain Pain by David Butler and Lorimer Mosley
What methods do you currently use to prescribe exercises and education to your patients?
I currently use handwritten notes and I sometimes follow-up with my patients via email.
What technology, if any, have you integrated into your practice? What do you like and what do you find challenging about what you're using?
I use an EMR system in practice that I like but the biggest problem I have at the moment is doing check-ins with patients on their Patient-Specific Functional Scale. I have to go back to the chart to find what I had put in and then update it. It would also be very helpful for patients to see their information.
I like Embodia because of the exercise video clips and the ability to track patients' compliance. Having the Patient-Specific Functional Scale (PSFS) on Embodia would add incredible value.
NB. The Patient-Specific Functional Scale is now available on Embodia! Come check it out and see how you can quickly and easily measure functional goals with your patients.
What kind of technology do you think would be most useful to complement your practice?
Patient reminders for exercises (Embodia reminds patients to do their exercises and track their progress).
What role do you believe technology can play in rehabilitation?
To improve communication and follow-up with patients.
What blogs, podcasts or websites do you regularly follow?
TedTalks - and I just watched one that was amazing called "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong" by Johann Hari.
Here you'll find who and what Bahram was referencing during our discussion. These references have also been linked throughout the interview.
- Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute (APTEI)
- The Pain Truth...And Nothing But!
- Future APTEI Courses
- Jon Kabat-Zinn - "It's not a doing. It's a being. And being doesn't take any time." Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Anderson Cooper on 60 minutes.
- Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix
- APTEI symposium - October 3, 2015, in Toronto
- Explain Pain by Lorimer Moseley and David Butler
- TedTalks 'Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong' by Johann Hari
Bahram Jam PT, D.SC.PT, M.PHTY, B.SC.PT, FCAMT
Bahram is a physiotherapist and founder of the Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute (APTEI). He's taught 1000+ continuing education courses to healthcare professionals across Canada & internationally.
He has instructed over one thousand post-graduate orthopaedic and pain science courses and has been a guest presenter at several physiotherapies and medical conferences across Canada and internationally.
His primary clinical approach is to identify relevant functional impairments and determine the best self-management strategy to maximize patient independence.