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Polyvagal Theory, Stress and MSK Pain with Marlysa Sullivan

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Polyvagal Theory, Stress and MSK Pain with Marlysa Sullivan

Polyvagal Theory, Stress and MSK Pain with Marlysa Sullivan

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Accelerate your Growth by Increasing your Scope Episode 7

Polyvagal Theory, Stress and MSK Pain with Marlysa Sullivan

This series is designed for private practice and hospital-based orthopaedic therapists, including physiotherapists, kinesiologists, chiropractors, and sports medicine physicians.  The scope of practice for musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions is rapidly changing.  Years lived with disability for people with chronic MSK conditions has increased by 60% since the turn of the millennium. 

MSK conditions are more complex than ever before. Nutrition, lifestyle factors, sensorimotor smudging, pelvic health, psychosocial factors, and stress all play a role in the health and wellbeing of persons with MSK problems.  

Are you ready to accelerate your clinical growth by broadening your scope of practice?  

Episode 7: Polyvagal Theory, Stress and MSK Pain with Marlysa Sullivan

Objectives of the Session:

Stress and depression are comorbid conditions with many MSK problems. Join Marlysa as she delves into the physiotherapist’s role in understanding how the autonomic nervous system regulates our biopsychosocial health and wellbeing.

General Information about this Webinar Series

Don’ts: You don’t have to become a psychologist to have a psychologically-informed practice and you don’t have to become a pelvic health physiotherapist to address pelvic health issues.  

Do’s: You do have to raise your awareness of the complexity of factors that contribute to persistent pain.  This webinar series will accomplish just that.  It is designed to introduce you to a variety of topics for consideration in MSK problems.  Should a menopausal woman with shoulder pain get the same treatment approach as a 20-year old student?  Do you routinely screen the pelvic floor in low back pain?  What does spirituality have to do with MSK problems?  Lifestyle factors, such as nutrition, sleep, and exercise are rarely discussed with someone with neck pain; yet, all of these factors are highly relevant.  

Join Carolyn Vandyken as she has an open forum discussion with clinical leaders in these areas of whole-person health.

Overview of all Sessions:

  1. Sleep and Musculoskeletal Pain: The Crucial Link with Debbie Patterson (February 12)
  2. Osteoporosis: A Silent Risk Factor for Decreased Quality of Life (QOL) with Mikki Townsend (February 19)
  3. Hormones Matter: Considerations for Treating Women with MSK Problems with Susan Clinton (February 26)
  4. Tension is a Top-Down Problem: Changing our Target(s) with Exercise with Carolyn Vandyken (March 5)
  5. Lifestyle Medicine and Musculoskeletal (MSK) Health: Broadening your Scope with Dr. Sinead Dufour (March 12)
  6. Exercise Prescription Overhaul for MSK Pain with Cory Blickenstaff and Teresa Waser (March 19)
  7. Polyvagal Theory, Stress and MSK Pain with Marlysa Sullivan (March 26)

Upon completion of this webinar series, participants will:

  • Have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of MSK problems
  • Understand the data that suggests that our current approach to MSK rehab needs an overhaul
  • Develop a thirst for more knowledge and skills that will broaden their scope and skill-base to help MSK patients make sustainable change(s)
  • Accelerate the growth of their practice by diversifying their skillset in a biopsychosocial realm
  • Treat MSK problems more effectively by taking the whole person into consideration
The instructors
Carolyn Vandyken
BHSc (PT)

Carolyn has practiced in orthopaedics and pelvic health for the past 33 years.She is a McKenzie Credentialed physiotherapist (1999), certified in acupuncture (2002), and obtained a certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in 2017.

Carolyn received the YWCA Woman of Distinction award (2004) and the OPA Distinguished Education Award (2015). She has been heavily involved in post-graduate pelvic health education, research in lumbopelvic pain, speaking at numerous international conferences and writing books and chapters for the past twelve years in pelvic health, orthopaedics and pain science.

Her passion is to break down the silos that we live in as clinicians.


Marlysa Sullivan
MPT, C-IAYT

Marlysa is a physiotherapist and yoga therapist with over 15 years of experience working with people suffering with chronic pain conditions. She is an Assistant Professor in Yoga Therapy and Integrative Health Sciences at Maryland University of Integrative Health and holds an adjunct position at Emory University, where she teaches the integration of yoga and mindfulness into physical therapy practice in the DPT program. She is also the author of Understanding Yoga Therapy: Applied Philosophy and Science for Well-being and co-editor of Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain as well as several peer-reviewed articles.

Marlysa has been involved in the professionalization of the field of yoga therapy through the educational standards committee of IAYT, which helped to define the competencies for the field, and in characterizing the yoga therapy workforce through research. Her research interests focus on defining the framework and explanatory model for yoga therapy based on philosophical and neurophysiological perspectives.

Course Material included in this course
  • Polyvagal Theory, Stress and MSK Pain with Marlysa Sullivan
  • Introduction
  • Automatic Activations
  • Clinical Applications
  • Demonstration
  • Questions
  • Feedback
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