Dr. Jim Wagner, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, CPAM, CSCS, CKTP, is an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist who has specialized in upper-extremity and sports-related injuries in clinical settings for 24 years. He earned his occupational therapy degree from Keuka College in Keuka Park, NY, and post-professional clinical doctorate with a specialty in hand therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, UT. Dr. Wagner is a HawkGrips instructor, team leader of the hand/upper extremity center at Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, PA, as well as an adjunct professor for the occupational therapy programs at Keuka College and Ithaca College in New York. As a competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder for the past 30 years, Dr. Wagner has integrated his passion for instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) into both his personal training and clinical practice. He’s also a member of the American Society of Hand Therapists and has been published in the Journal of Hand Therapy.
How did you first learn about HawkGrips?
I had been introduced to instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) through a colleague due to my frustration with treating various chronic conditions. I began to work with and use various instruments in both the clinic and gym. Then about 4-5 years ago, I was introduced to HawkGrips products and the company itself through my Performance Health representative. When I looked at the design, treatment edges and instrument quality of HawkGrips compared to other IASTM providers, as well as the commitment HawkGrips had made to excellent education, they stood out to me as by far the best IASTM company.
How have you incorporated HawkGrips into your professional practice?
As clinicians, we play a huge part in soft tissue management, from post-surgical care to acute and chronic conditions. IASTM has played an integral role in the daily care of my patients and their successful outcomes. HawkGrips have provided me with greater adaptability in the treatments of those I serve.
Are there any unique applications or innovative techniques you’d like to share?
In our busy hand center, we treat many soft tissue injuries where significant trauma has been sustained, including reconstructions, replants, tendon repairs, and so on. I incorporate a multitude of scar-management techniques that help differentiate the various soft tissue layers because of dense adhesions. I’ve also had remarkable success with our post-mastectomy patients who experience axillary cording. HawkGrips have helped me achieve much greater success in managing these difficult cases. The result is a patient’s quicker return to their normal activities.
What benefits do HawkGrips provide to patients and clinicians versus other treatment methods?
The opportunity to use multiple treatment edges and gain access to areas on the body where my hands were unable to effectively make an impact before has been immense. I would take HawkGrips over any passive modality any day. Not only can I use HawkGrips to passively remodel soft tissue, but the instruments can also be incorporated into dynamic functional activities. This has been a “game changer” for me and those I care for. I can integrate HawkGrips into a patient’s daily living skills to hone in on problematic areas that I’m unable to work on with other modalities.
Can you provide details about a specific HawkGrips success story?
I have many but one that sticks out is a friend and former training partner who suffered with chronic lateral epicondylosis for several years. He had tried cortisone injections and various other treatments and was using a tennis elbow strap. The significant mechanical pain he experienced had led to inferior performance in the gym. I began to work with him and found muscle imbalances and soft tissue restrictions. I incorporated HawkGrips into his training and identified which positions caused pain. After three to four treatments, he was pain-free and not wearing his strap anymore. I’ve been in powerlifting and bodybuilding for 30 years and use these instruments for self-maintenance as well. HawkGrips work!
How do you believe HawkGrips compare to other IASTM tools on the market?
I’ve used multiple other IASTM tools on the market over the years and have been able to conduct side-by-side comparisons with various instruments. HawkGrips are by far superior. They have more treatment edges, multiple sizes, cross-hatching for greater control, and far better-quality steel that allows for more effective treatment.
What do you like about being an instructor?
I love to teach and sharing my experience with course participants. I’ve been in clinical practice for 23 years now and still learn just as much from the clinicians I teach as they do from me. HawkGrips as a company enables me to teach the way I’d like to learn as a clinician, and that makes all the difference!
What would you say to clinicians who are thinking about taking a HawkGrips course?
IASTM is a hands-on interactive learning experience. Take the course, see and feel the difference. It’s so worth the investment!
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