A Prepared Mind: Brian Mulligan and the Mulligan Concept of Manual Therapy

Brian Mulligan is one of the world’s leading physiotherapists. He is a lecturer, founder of the Mulligan Concept Teachers’ Association and the inventor of the Mulligan Concept of Manual Therapy. He has been married forty years and like many New Zealand natives, enjoys the outdoors, his children and grandchildren. Brain’s private practice began in 1956 and he has taught in ninety one cities in the US and twenty countries around the world. Under his belt he has tucked countless journal articles, several textbooks and many awards, most recently the International Service to the Profession Award given by the World Confederacy for Physical Therapy, held this year in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Brian founded the Mulligan Concept Teachers’ Association in 1995 as a vehicle committed to validating his brainchild through real research. Today, there are thirty five accredited teachers and there have been at least that many randomized controlled trials that illustrate the positive outcome of his procedures. Most of his students learn from his original textbook Manual Therapy: NAGS, SNAGS, MWMs, etc. He also wrote Self Treatment for Back, Neck and Limbs and The Mulligan Concept of Manual Therapy, the latter being the ‘go to’ book for physiotherapists interested in these common sense techniques.

Brian’s concepts seem complicated at first but with further reading are easily understood. His original hypothesis states that injuries to the joints of the body can and do result in a minor fault in the way that joint moves. These faults cause restrictions in movement, accompanied by pain, stiffness, and weakness. Normal joints allow free but controlled movement while working to soften the natural forces of compression put onto them by the body’s regular movements. Physiotherapists work to realign the damaged joint in the least invasive ways: small steps over time to return the bones, muscles, tendons and other bodily structures to their natural places. These small steps eventually realign the joint, thus reliving pain and any further damage.

Mr. Mulligan’s concepts have been called both enduring and practical. The philosophy surrounding his techniques is not stand alone, instead he encourages them to be integrated into already existing clinical practices. Brian’s favorite quote by the late Louis Pasteur surely encompasses the entirety of his concepts concerning manual therapy and the unique ability of the human body to heal with time: “In the field of discovery, chance only favors the prepared mind.”

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