A conversation with Dr. Jason Garrett, the Vice-President of Training and Treatment Standards for Airrosti.
What is Airrosti?
Airrosti is a "best practices" [treatment model] and what we do is we utilize every available soft tissue technique,after doing a thorough evaluation and diagnosis, to correct the fascial injuries and all kinds of musculoskeletal injuries so anything from carpal tunnel syndrome, lumbar disc herniations, achilles tendonitis, to plantar fasciitis, and sprained ankles. We can literally take someone on crutches with a sprained ankle and get them running an hour later, or a pulled hamstring.
How does it work?
The big differentiator between why injuries don't get better over time and why some injuries do...is the majority of injuries are fascial injuries and they connect the tissue that supports everything. It doesn't really have a dedicated blood supply, therefore, it doesn't heal well. It heals really improperly...For example, if you take your shoulder out, or sprain your ankle, usually within 6 to 8 weeks you feel pretty normal because that's the way your body adapts to pain. You learn to compensate and/or move around those injuries. What we do is go in there and take the fascia which is very plastic[-like], and it doesn't have a very dedicated blood supply, and we mold it back into a position where it is near 100% in its original state and it functions almost immediately because - the muscles, tendons, [and] bones - those tissues heal really fast becasue they are highly vascular.
So you mold the muscle back to where it should be?
...or the connective tissue. It's kind of like ...a plastic bag that surrounds and envelopes muscles or muscle groups and cells. We're not actually working on the individual muscles, or muscles themselves, we're working on the structures that support and house the muscles.
What is the success rate, or even your personal success rate [with Airrosti treatments]?
Actually, the whole company industry-wide, our average treatment to get people back to doing what they want to do pain-free range of motion - to discharge them is 3.3 visits for all musculoskeletal injuries, acute and chronic. And some of those are obviously going to be like one, they come in once. Some of them are going to be three, four, maybe five, but the average, when you take everything across the board, the last 40 or 50,000 treatments we've had, ...it's exactly 3.3 visits. And we're one of the only companies that tracks our outcomes...of the patients, so we know exactly how many times we treat them per injury. We track how many surgeries we prevent, how many MRI's we prevent, how many cortisone injections we prevent, so we save employers, carriers, and individuals thousands of dollars per injury.
What is some of the history behind Airrosti? How was it developed?
It originally was a collaboration between an ER physician and a manual therapist. What they did was cadaver studies on people who died in motor vehicle accidents and actually mapped out the fascial system and saw how the fascia/connective tissue distorted due to big injuries and also looked at the patient's chart and saw that 15 years ago this person pulled a hamstring and they dissected it out, and the hamstring still looked like a mess. It still looked like a spiderweb that, when you compare it to a normal hamstring where everthing lined up real well, and the one that was pulled 15 years ago never really healed. So they categorized the different types of fascial injuries in several [groups], and the manual therapist that was collaborating with this doctor put all that information together and figured out how to fix pretty much all soft tissue injuries as long as there is not a fracture or a tear.
What is the theory behind how it works, or how it works better than traditional deep tissue sports therapy type massage?
We have proprietary knowledge of how injures occur and that's from those cadaver studies. So we actually understand, one, the depth, the direction, and the intenstity, pressure and precision we have to apply to correct those structures. There's a lot of people who do soft tissue treatments - there are things like ART (active release techniques), Rolfing, Graston, really good soft tissue techniques, but the problem with any technique is it's just that. It's a technique that you apply across the board and what happens is you're not consistent with your outcomes because you can't fix everything with the [one] technique. What we employ are any and all soft tissue technique that work for the injury. We don't just have, if someone came in with plantar fasciitis or an ankle sprain, we don't already know what we're going to do. We evaluate the person and figure out what to do, then treat them acording to their own injury.
Is Airrosti becoming more popular?
We started off about 5 years ago and there were 5 providers. Now we have, starting in January, we'll have 38. We're all over the state [of Texas] and Oklahoma.
What educational background do Airrosti practitioners have?
Right now, all of our providers are chiropractors, because they are portal of entry providers. The reason we don't use physical therapists, right now - we would love to use physical therapists - but, unfortunately, they can't accept patients directly off the street. They have to have a referral from an MD or a chiropractor, or a DO (doctor of osteopathy), which slows down the entire process. [You] have to go to an MD, get a referral, then come to physical therapy. Whereas, with us, if someone sprains an ankle, and let's say it's a big company in town and they want to send their patients directly to us because they know we'll save them a lot of money by preventing MRI's and surgeries, they can come straight to us. They're not going to waste their time and money by giong to get an evaulation or a referral first.
I'm being treated with Airrosti for my plantar fasciitis and a hip problem, and it hurts a lot! Does it hurt just as much for somebody with a sprained ankle?
It's different for every single person and you get a wide variety of responses to the pain. I've actually had a couple of patients fall asleep working on their low back, [which is] more unusual, but it happens from time to time. It's anywhere from people yelling a little bit, to laughing, or just kind of taking it real sternly. I will tell you one thing, I've never had someone come in and not come back because of the pain. The pain of the treatment is very short-lived. It's only during the treatment, and usually the patient feels almost instant relief.
You have some high profile clients who like the results of Airrosti?
There's Jennifer Broome (WOAI), yourself, Jimmy Walker (San Antonio golfer), Sinbad the comedian, Laura Wilkinson the Gold medalist and multiple world champion diver, as well as the U.S. Men's Gymnastics Team, the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team, the University of Texas at Austin. We're on site there, we treat their athletes just to name a few.
Is this an expensive treatment option?
It is covered by all the major insurance carriers. We have a direct contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield, United, Aetna starting January 1st, and Humana. For the most part, whatever your specialist, physical therapy or chiropractic co-pay is, that's what it's going to be. So it's not anymore expensive than any other treatment.
You can find out more about Airrosti, at www.airrosti.com. They have several locations in San Antonio.