carlos cataño interview

Institution: Mutua Maz since 2007 until 2014. Now I’m lecturing undergraduate students in Escuelas Universitarias Gimbernat in Torrelavega and working in my own practice in Silla (a small town near Valencia).

Years of experience in HT: 7 years now, but I have worked with hand patients since 2000

Main areas in HT you’ve been working in:

I started with paediatrics (cerebral palsy mostly), but later on I changed to sports (Handball, Asobal League) and, finally dealing with injuries in the work place (that has been the last 8 years).

Main subjects that you’ve presented in a meeting?

Mostly, my colleagues know me for my talks about the internet (and so called 2.0 health), critical thinking and scepticism, but the biospsychosocial aproach in physiotherapy and psychosocial factors that influence disability are my preferred themes.

Please, tell us more about you…

What was your first encounter with hand therapy?

My first contact (and I didn’t know at the time) was after my second year at a worker’s compensation clinic. A patient went to see a hand surgeon in Barcelona and, the day she came back, she told me “you need to go there and study what they are doing, you will love it, they work really well”; we laughed for some minutes and then forget about it. Ironically, some years later I met Vicenç Punsola in Barcelona, the PT who worked with that surgeon when my patient went to see him. To this day, that patient is a very good friend of mine and I owe her a lot for that advice. And that is true for Vicenç too.

What is the most important training you’ve had and where was it? Could you tell us some anecdotes about that?  

Without doubt, the course I did 2 years ago in Gimbernat at Sant Cugat Campus, near Barcelona. The surgeons and the therapists I met there were truly experts. And the students were very smart too. Some of them are now known professors and lecturers in Spain, so I can say I was very lucky to meet them at that first edition of the course.

In your opinion which is the book you think a hand therapist needs to have near his bed?

Hand therapist or not, there are two volumes you can’t skip if you want to manage patients the right way. One is The Sensitive Nervous System by David Butler, probably the best PT book I’ve read to date, and  Aches and Pains, by the late Louis Gifford. You will think (and possibly you’re right) that those aren’t hand therapy books, but I fear that Hand Therapy is too narrowly focused on anatomy,  biomechanics and the (old) biomedical model, and, if you ask me, there aren’t any real reasons to stay there. We should move on as has happened in spine / chronic pain management.

Which article do you think is the most essential for a hand therapist to read? What did you find in this article that you want to share?

This is a very hard question, but if you’re a new hand therapist, you need to be familiar with “Management of upper limb disorders and the biopsychosocial model” by Burton, Kendall & Pierce (2008). It’s a good starting point to summarize the evidence in upper limb disorders, and it really changed my mind about repetitive strain injuries (SRI), work related diseases and, especially, introduced my to the work-related problems, opposed to work-induced problems I used to see in the clinic.

Has your professional practice changed over the years? How did it use to be and how is it now?

The most important change in the way I treat patients is plain and simple: I no longer consider myself a “mechanic” or someone that applies techniques, as a lot of instructors with a big ©  tried to teach me through the years. I think I’m good at talking to people, at least in Spanish, and that’s the part I’ve changed the most in recent years.

In which projects are you involved in this moment?

I’m working with two scientific societies, SEFID (Spanish Society of Pain and Physiotherapy) and AETEMA (the Spanish Hand Therapy Association), so I think 2015 will be a busy year. Our last Pain & PT International Conference was pretty good (close to 400 attendants), so we’re now thinking about new courses and strategies for the future. But what I really want this year is to get the Hand Therapist certificate in my country. Also, I will continue to write in my blog.

In your opinion which are the next highlights for HT in the coming years?

I’m thinking local now. The HT situation worldwide seems pretty good, but as you know, we’re barely known in Spain as a specialty, so we need to work hard before the XXIst Congress of the Federation of European Societies for Surgery of the Hand (FESSH) in Santander (Spain) in 2016.

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