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Standing On The Shoulders of Giants

Sir Isaac Newton is most well known for having discovered calculus and for formulating the theory of universal gravity. If you didn't know that about him, you may have associated him with an apple. The legendary story goes that he had been sitting under a tree when an apple fell and hit him on the head, thus creating the motivation to try to explain this invisible force that is the basis for why objects fall. While it is not known if an apple actually fell on Newton, we can thank Newton for his contributions to scientific progress. One of the most well known statements that Sir Isaac made regarding scientific progress was in a letter address to Robert Hooke in 1675 in which he said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This has come to be a metaphor for scientific progress that was made by continuing to build on the work and discoveries of those who have come and gone before us. It is because of this reason, that the scientific and medical world continues to produce advances in our understanding of how our bodies work within the world we live in.

The scientific process itself, is the method by which all true discoveries and understanding occur. If you don't recall all of the steps in the process I am going to list them here and attempt to transcribe why they are important.

The Scientific Process

1) Ask a question that you want to try to explain

2) What do we currently know about it (background research)

3) Construct a hypothesis or an educated guess

4) Test the hypothesis by performing as well of a controlled experiment as you can

5) Analyze the data and draw a conclusion

6) Communicate your results

All that is known with regard to scientific discoveries, has gone through some level of the scientific process. In my field of work as a medical professional who works with humans, human anatomy, and the (dys)function(s) of the human body, I am very much interested in knowing what the giants before and among us have tried to communicate about how the body works. I believe those in the medical field have an obligation to follow a scientific process especially when helping others improve the quality of their lives. In a nutshell, I believe that helping others improve their quality of life is one of my main purposes.

It is an understatement that the human body is a complex entity. There have been many discoveries made that have helped us to better understand how our body does what it does. Many more discoveries will continue to be made that will help others improve their quality of life. For those fortunate enough to find themselves in human services medical direct care capacity, always seek to ask good questions about the person or people you are working with. This will serve to help you find an appropriate starting line. If the person shares with you something that you don't know a lot about, ask for more information from them or seek additional resources if need be. No one person knows everything but we can usually seek out ways to find and learn something new especially with current access to information and networking with others. Make a hypothesis and then test it. If your educated guess quickly fails, change the hypothesis and test it again. I like to think of the test/retest method as an experimental process that I perform on a daily basis. If a particular manual intervention improves one of our measures, then that is probably a good treatment option for this situation. It may or may not be a good treatment option for another situation. The last step in the scientific process involves communicating with others whether that be to our clients, other professionals in our specific field, or other professionals in different fields. Communication is tantamount for scientific and clinical findings to proliferate to the others. As heard in the lyrics for Phish's "The Greater Good",

Sometimes for the greater good

I do what I know I should

But even so it often seems

That what I should is ill-conceived

Don't leave your decisions to guessing or chance. Don't neglect the scientific process.

If you have made it this far and are not a medical professional, but you find yourself on the receiving end of a direct medical care situation, you should be doing this same 6 step process. Ask questions about your specific medical situation to your healthcare provider. Take the information you get and combine it with as much additional information that you can find out about it on your own. This will help you make a better informed decision. It is you who ultimately makes your medical decisions. We are here to help you help yourself.

If you have any questions that you would like to ask you can email me at If you are interested in more information about your specific situation you can schedule a consultation with me HERE.

Be Well,

Dr. Matt

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