Featured Fellow: Nancy Hackett Harrison, PT, MSPT, CFMT, FFMT, FAAOMPT

Nancy discovered her passion for human movement on the ski slopes of Steamboat. She spent 15 years as a professional ski instructor, fascinated by how people moved and how the body interacted with skis and snow. She earned her Alpine Level III Certification (full alpine) and then continued her study of biomechanics, graduating from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Program with a Masters of Science in Physical Therapy.

Frustrated with the limitations of some traditional practices of physical therapy, Nancy pursued certification in Functional Manual Therapy™ through the Institute of Physical Art (IPA), the national accrediting body for FMT™. She earned Functional Manual Therapist Certification and continued as a Fellow in the Director’s Program, mentoring under Gregg Johnson and Vicky Saliba Johnson. Nancy is now a member of the faculty of IPA, teaching Functional Gait and Functional Mobilization Lower Quadrant to physical therapists around the country.

Always seeking to deepen her understanding of how the body should move, Nancy earned a Fellowship in the American Academy of Orthopedic and Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) in 2009.

Nancy specializes in diagnosing and resolving chronic injuries, pelvic dysfunctions (especially involving the coccyx), and retraining movement patterns both of injured areas and the whole body.  She has two clinics, one in the Highlands in NW Denver, Colorado, the other in Boulder, Colorado.  All the therapists who work with her study and specialize in the IPA approach.

Nancy has ridden horses since she was 4 years old. She owns three horses, Calisto, Finn, and Movie, with whom she competes at a high level in the equestrian sport of dressage. She teaches clinics on rider biomechanics and posture. Nancy lives in Lafayette, Colorado with her husband Ken and two cats, Meika and Sadie.

What made you decide to pursue fellowship training?

As I was completing one of my last clinical affiliations, I was lucky enough to observe Gregg Johnson one day a week.  I was incredibly impressed at the effectiveness and efficiency of his treatments and how well people progressed so quickly.  It was not what I learned in school, but I knew I wanted to do what he did.

What fellowship program did you attend and why?

Institute of Physical Art with Gregg Johnson and Vicky Saliba Johnson specializing in Functional Manual Therapy.  I felt it was a very thorough approach that treats the cause and supports the symptoms to resolve long term, not just get out of pain right now.  It uses a three pronged approach to diagnosis and treatment:  Mechanical, Neuromuscular Control and Motor Control.

By going through this Fellowship and using the FMT approach, I feel as if I can treat anyone who walks through my door.  I have treated clients from 8 months to 102 years old, ranging from professional athletes to weekend warriors to high school athletes to people who have limited mobility due to SCI or other neurological issues and everyone in between.  It makes everyday exciting!

What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc…)?

To be eligible for the Fellowship, I had to complete my CFMT, the certification through the IPA.  Then, I had to apply and get accepted to participate in the year long fellowship.  Once in the Fellowship, we focused on problem solving, specific techniques, progressions, and subjective intake.  I was observed, tested, and I treated in oral practicals throughout the year.  It was a very thorough fellowship.

What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?

I think it is critical to have mentorship throughout your career but especially at the beginning.  One piece of advice I got from Kent Keyser, another AAOMPT Fellow, when I first graduated was

find a continuing education group that makes sense to you and pursue their path to learn their approach.  This will give you a framework from which to think and problem solve and a basis from which you can learn throughout your career.

It helps organize your continuing education path, rather than taking a hodgepodge approach and trying to make sense of it.  It was the most important piece of advice I received to put my career on the right path.

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