Thursday, October 18, 2007

Percussor 101

This is a percussor. I have successfully failed to describe it accurately enough--and a picture is worth a thousand words. So here it is:

I can't talk about the Erchonia percussor without talking about Dr. John Brimhall, because that's who taught me. I learned from him before I became a massage therapist--in fact it was this work that inspired me to go to school. For all my non-Brimhallers out there, a percussor is a hand-held instrument that works on fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that hold muscles, organs, etc. in place. It's v. strong stuff--2000 lbs. of pressure, if I'm remembering correctly. You know that filmy stuff across a chicken breast? Fascia. Dr. John says you could take everything out of the body and leave the fascia and you would still have the shape of your body. Whenever there's trauma to the body, the fascia can get restricted to create restricted movement or pain. As a massage therapist, I had a whole semester on myofascial release.

S-L-O-W work and pretty much like watching paint dry. Hehhhh...the percussor is way faster and efficient. Not only is it great for pain, but it's wonderful for TMJ (jaw) problems, breathing problems (there's a diaphragm release that really helps with asthma), and scar tissue release.
Surgery always disrupts the fascia and can create all sorts of problems, especially any kind of abdominal surgery, like a C-section. Dr. Lee tells a rather graphic story about a C-section patient who'd suffered from chronic constipation. I'm debating whether to say the rest...OK, get ready to say Eeewwww! On the way home she stopped at a gas station and FILLED one toilet, moved on to the next and was afraid to leave....yup, she was literally full of crap.

I worked on a client who was having extreme TMJ pain and it was related to a hysterectomy she'd had 7 years prior. The scar was less than an inch across, but as it released, so did her TMJ pain. Amazing stuff. I also worked on a woman who'd had multiple car accidents and surgeries. Not only are you working on the physical scar, but also the emotional trauma related to it as well. So the percussor releases all that pent-up energy as well as addressing unresolved emotions related to the initial trauma. And that was my first experience of being engulfed in a cloud of the energy of the anesthesia. Whew! Dr. Brady, another Brimhall doc, said When you work with the percussor, you'll start to experience some strange things. I have had some v. strange enxperiences that I will save for another time!


Margot Potter said...

Hmmm...that's quite interesting. I have this asthma problem...and years back a massage therapist did some intense work with me. He told me that I had the tightest fascia he'd ever experienced.

Connection?! Maybe?!

Lord. I need one of those!


Hali Chambers said...

Absolutely there could be a connection--also looking at when the asthma started, if there are any allergies related to it...all that Brimhall stuff I gab on about. I LOVE the percussor not just because of the amazing work you can do with it, but it FEELS WONDERFUL! Someday we'll meet--have percussor, will travel!
:-) H.

Carol Porter said...

Hi Hali,

I'm studying neuromuscular therapy, have a chiro-bro, and recently experienced a percussor as a chiropractic patient for the first time -- at my friend's doc because I was injured away from home. It was so amazing that I bought one after I returned home -- it's worth every penny just for me to take care of my husband and myself.

In a week, I've had interesting experiences using it, as you noted.

I have a dear friend who has relentless asthma and a hiatal hernia -- any chance you could share the diaphragm release technique with me?

I don't know if you've heard of injecting the infraspinatus with a local anesthetic as an asthma cure -- I've only read of it -- but have had success working on the infraspinatus and also the erector spinus muscles of friends with asthma.

Although my brother uses a percussor in his practice, he's never used it on me. He lives far away from me, so I have no teacher with percussor experience (I live on Hawaii's Big Island).

Of course, personal experience is very instructive -- already my "listening hand" is more perceptive.


Hali Chambers said...

A friend! Carol, it's always GREAT to meet fellow percussor enthusiasts. If there's anyway to get to a Brimhall seminar for some hands-on training, that's where I learned. You probably already know you can go to, to get a schedule of seminars.

I'll do my best to describe the diaphragm release: place percussor in the middle between belly button & xyphoid process. Make sure you're off the xyphoid! Stand on the left for ladies, right for men.

The percussor is flat on the diaphragm and you are working superficial to deep. You'll feel a sort of "wall." Then you'll feel it release to go to the next level.

Your listening hand is a bit different here: finger tips together proximal to the belly button, distal to the percussor, going straight down with the percussor.

Dr. Brimhall calls this Shock Release and while it frees up breathing on a physical level, it's also for people who are experiencing stress or strong emotions. Let your client know that there's a possibility that they will may have a few tears or feel a bit emotional for the next 24 hours. I've personally not had that experience, but I did have a client who cried for about 25 minutes on the way home, and then she was fine.

Dr. Brady, a Brimhall doc in Franklin, TN says that when you start to do percussor work you experience some weird things. I'm wondering what your "weird" experiences are.

Feel free to email me: halichambers(at)gmail(dot)com

All the BEST, :-) Hali

P.S. There has also been a link to a leaky gut with asthma & allergy sufferers, as well as looking into specific food allergies (wheat, dairy, corn, etc.) Dr. Brimhall teaches how to address these with his 6 Steps to Wellness protocol. Get your brother to a seminar! Dr. Brimhall uses neutriceuticals from Nutri-west, as well as an allergy desensitization process. In addition, there are techniques he uses to address the emotional components of an illness. Also important is when the asthma showed up.

There is a percussor technique for a hiatal hernia, but I've only seen it. Chiropractors who are trained in visceral manipulation can also adjust them by hand. (as well as dropped organs like the bladder,kidneys, or a tipped uterus, etc.) I think that answers all your questions. :-) H.

Anonymous said...

Hi There -

I've been suffering from chronic pain for six years since a fifty foot fall. I've had the percussor used on me during physical therapy sessions and am in love with it.

I would like to purchase one for home use - however - I would need my husband to learn how to utilize the machine as I would need the treatment on my back, shoulders, etc.

Do you know of a book or DVD or other resource that may be used to educate both my husband and I on using the instrument?

Any information you would be able to share would be wonderful.

My email is:

Thank you!

Hali Chambers said...

Email sent with info. I would also like to add that when you're in chronic pain for a long time, it feels like it will never end. It can. There is a way, you just have to find the right healing modality. Good luck, :-) H.

MessiahMews said...

Oh, I'm dying to get my hands on one of these! I've been having ROLFing, and the guy said that he has "hit a wall" with me, meaning he can't release every bit nor the stress that causes all the excess scar tissue, adhesions and gristle all over my body. I have this HARD upper belly that is an apparent energy blockage that NO ONE has been able to keep it released. I wish someone in the Northern Idaho panhandle would have one of these, but as usual, all the good stuff is always elsewhere.

I've had over a year's worth of NCR, and my structure has changed for the better, but still need to rid all of that hard stuff in my body.

I'd like to buy a Brimhall used one if possible and learn to use it, but someone needs to have a local seminar here for training.

Hali Chambers said...

Check out the Brimhall doctor locator on Dr. Brimhall's site:

You may have to travel if there's no one local. I did and it was totally worth it! :-) H.