The Sensation of Fascia: An Autonomous Approach Teaching palpation carries the risk of the instructor inadvertently using the “power of suggestion” to influence the student’s perception of the tissue being palpated. To avoid such negative consequences, the student should be encouraged to develop an autonomous sense of perception while simultaneously being certain that they are palpating the intended tissue. In this workshop, the negative influence of the “power of suggestion” is first demonstrated to the participants. Then a useful and reproducible method for ensuring that the student is definitely palpating fascial tissue of practiced. Rather than relying upon the description offered by instructors or derived by viewing atlases, the participants are directed to use their own individual description of their palpation experience. This process reinforces an autonomous experiential sensation of fascia. The approach used in this workshop is supported by a demonstration of the fact that even 36 of the world’s most experienced osteopaths and osteopathic physicians do not agree on the answer to the question “what does healthy fascia feel like?” Further, a slide presentation of fresh fascia tissue taken from animal dissections within an hour following specimen death is compared with pictures taken from standard anatomy atlases. The obvious visual differences between photographs of fresh fascia and photographs and drawings of preserved specimens helps reinforce A.T. Still's injunction to “…keep a living picture before your mind all the time, so you can see all joints, ligaments, muscles, glands, arteries, veins, lymphatics, fascia superficial and deep, all organs…” (Still, 1899, Philosophy of Osteopathy, p.13)
Jane Stark is an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner (DOMP), born, educated, and practicing in Canada. She has been on the faculty of the Canadian College of Osteopathy for the last seven years and has also served as an Executive Committee member for the World Osteopathic Health Organization. While she considers herself to be a well-rounded osteopathic practitioner, she has two diverse special interests: a) biographical osteopathic history—Still, Littlejohn, Sutherland b) the significance of fascia, past and present, as it relates to clinical practice. Jane has lectured internationally (Italy, England, Belgium, France, Austria, Germany, Japan, & Kirksville) and is published in English, German, and French on both topics.