Roger O'Toole is the Director and senior clinician of The Melbourne Headache Centre. Since opening the Melbourne Headache Centre in 2012 Roger has amassed over 4000 hours of clinical expertise representing over 1000 sufferers. With over 12 years experience in …
Roger O'Toole is the Director and senior clinician of The Melbourne Headache Centre. Since opening the Melbourne Headache Centre in 2012 Roger has amassed over 4000 hours of clinical expertise representing over 1000 sufferers. With over 12 years experience in general physiotherapy and post graduate training in pain science, he has developed a unique skill set and a special interest in the management of chronic headpain in all its forms.
Healthshare Interview with Roger O'Toole
Why did you get involved in Physiotherapy? I became involved in physiotherapy because I come from a health background. My mother was a radiographer, and I would often spend time with her in hospitals. I think I became interested in physiotherapy after spending a lot of time in physiotherapists’ rooms as a young athlete. Since then my interest rapidly developed towards spinal conditions.
Why do you love what you do? I love what I do because I see rapid changes in people that have chronic pain. Having been a physiotherapist for over 12 years, when someone came to me with a decade or more of a particular pain, my expectations were low, and therapy became about “coping”. This headache and migraine treatment is unlike any other treatment or condition that I have treated previously in that people with 20-30 years of problems often respond in under 3 weeks.
What level of skill do you possess? I have 2 undergraduate degrees. My physiotherapy degree is with first-class honors. I also have a postgraduate qualification in musculoskeletal physiotherapy which had a chronic pain component.
How would you define your attitude to patient / client care? We are very patient-centered. We only progress past the initial assessment if the patient agrees that what we are doing feels directly linked to their usual headpain. We expect 90% of people to significantly improve after 2 weeks of treatment. We do not continue to treat unless we both agree that significant changes are occurring. We really put the client in the driver seat of their care. We have a very strong self-treatment model, and we expect to discharge most people to self-treatment within a few weeks, without months and months of ongoing hands on treatment.
How do you explain information to clients (like treatment options)? We are very upfront in the first assessment with people about what we think their problems are, and what the treatment is to change it. Using spine models, diagrams, and explaining while assessing the neck, we pride ourselves on giving the patient all the information they need to effectively understand and manage their condition. We have a very strong emphasis on measuring outcomes. If we do not see improvement within a 2-week period, then we cease treatment. We generally spend up to 1½ hours in the initial assessment, and a significant part of that is educating about the problem and what we can do to try and address it.