Kate Miller, PTA, BSPTA, CFT, earned her associate’s in science degree in human biology and physical therapist assistant studies at San Diego Mesa College, prior to graduating from Pima Medical Institute with a bachelor’s of science in physical therapist assistant degree. She has worked in multiple environments including skilled nursing, inpatient, and outpatient orthopedic. Kate is also an APTA-certified clinical instructor and member of the California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) Political Action Committee Board of Trustees, which she serves as the San Diego liaison. In addition, she became a HawkGrips instructor in 2017.

Kate Miller PTA CFT HawkGrips IASTM

Kate Miller, PTA, BSPTA, CFT

How did you first learn about HawkGrips?

Believe it or not, I first encountered HawkGrips at a chapter-level physical therapy conference in California a few years ago. At the time, I was a student and had just been introduced to instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) via a clinical instructor, although the first tools I learned about were from a different company. What impressed me most about meeting HawkGrips Founder and President Frank Osborne at that conference was his excitement in talking to students and professionals alike about his company. It was refreshing to see his passion, customer service, and overall happiness to be around hopeful clinicians like me. Things like that come from the heart – not a paycheck.

How have you incorporated HawkGrips into your professional practice?

I’ve worked in a variety of environments ranging from pediatrics to neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, and home care. I absolutely utilize my instruments and education from HawkGrips in all of the above settings. The key is to possess that knowledge so you can adjust treatments as necessary. The reactions from patients and coworkers to HawkGrips are generally very positive. In fact, I’m often asked something like, “Hey Kate, where are those awesome tool thingies?” It makes me laugh, but also truly makes me happy to see such great results with a wide spectrum of patients.

Are there any unique applications or innovative techniques you’d like to share?

Being seven months pregnant, there are a lot of things I’m not supposed to do, eat or drink. I’ll tell you, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Unfortunately there are also many changes that happen to the body, no matter how prepared you think you are. I’ve always been an athlete, so falling apart physically was detrimental to my mental and physical health. Pregnancy massages are expensive, and I wasn’t sure if I really needed physical therapy at this point.

So I began utilizing the HawkGrips HG2 “Medium Handlebar” to relieve my hip and low-back pain. Self-treatment can sometimes be difficult since you can’t completely relax. However, I felt such relief from working on my quadratus lumborum and hip complex for just a few minutes a day. I plan to make a short video clip about my successful efforts sometime soon. Many people, even clinicians, are hardwired to be overly cautious with pregnant women like me. Just know that there are tons of available, and safe, treatments that can be provided using HawkGrips. I’m living proof!

What benefits do HawkGrips provide to patients and clinicians versus other treatment methods?

From a clinical perspective, IASTM via HawkGrips doesn’t replace my hands but rather enhances them. Manual therapy clinicians (physical therapists, occupational therapists, doctors of chiropractic, etc.) have a unique ability to improve the lives of patients through our hands. Exercise is certainly a huge component, but manual therapy techniques are vital for maintaining the balance between soft tissues such as fascia and muscles.

I was initially trained on another brand of IASTM tools but found my hands slipping a lot with them, which doesn’t look at all professional to the patient. In addition, I ended up gripping the tools rather hard to keep them from slipping – which defeated the purpose of “saving my hands.” HawkGrips instruments have a distinctive cross-hatch texture that enables more natural movement, in my opinion. So they truly feel like an extension of my hands and clinical knowledge.

The reverberations from the surgical-grade stainless steel provide excellent feedback in regard to myofascial dysfunction. To put it most simply, results don’t lie. By treating with HawkGrips, I can often produce the same if not better outcomes with my patient populations in half the time. This means increased productivity from a business standpoint, but more importantly a successful career with happy patients.

Can you provide details about a specific HawkGrips success story?

A couple of my patients come to mind who have both been featured on the HawkGrips website. In the case of Matt McGraw, HawkGrips made an incredible impact after he had been severely debilitated by ankylosing spondylitis for more than 20 years. Tyrone King, meanwhile, is a U.S. Navy veteran who suffered from widespread musculoskeletal dysfunction stemming from a foot deformity. After more than 15 years of worsening functional ability, he experienced transformative results with HawkGrips.

How do you believe HawkGrips compare to other IASTM tools on the market?

Elaborating on what I stated before, HawkGrips are superior-quality instruments but don’t require you to totally break the bank. Many people look at IASTM prices out there and get discouraged, but instruments like these are both a professional and personal investment. The flexible purchase and payment plans offered by HawkGrips make it much easier for clinicians, whether they work in private practice or corporate settings.

I’ve tried IASTM tools from multiple brands in my career and I prefer the decreased risk of infection with surgical-grade stainless steel. Many other IASTM products are made from plastic or lower-quality stainless steel. These are not the same! I urge you to see for yourself. I consider HawkGrips to be the top of the line in quality, price and customer service. That’s why I have stuck with them since I met Frank as a student.

What do you like about being an instructor?

I like to travel, but beyond that I honestly love how education stimulates my career. At every HawkGrips course, I learn something new from the attendees, whether they’re fellow physical therapy professionals, chiropractors, licensed massage therapists or other clinicians. I think the best way to become an expert in your field is to teach others, while keeping an open mind to different forms of learning. On top of that, the family feel within HawkGrips as a company is one of a kind. I’ve always felt welcome from the very start. Every single person is willing to help with whatever you need or questions you may have.

What would you say to clinicians thinking about taking a HawkGrips course?

Do it. I highly recommend speaking with a HawkGrips instructor, employee, certified clinician, or even a patient who has received HawkGrips treatment. It’s always important to do your research, and I fully respect that. I did mine and can honestly say HawkGrips is my top choice for several reasons. If you’re on the fence, please feel free to email me at kmiller@hawkgrips.com! I’d be happy to give you my perspective and provide any information you’re looking for!

IASTM: A Performance Enhancement Tool

The human skin is the the largest organ of the integumentary system. It is enriched with dense neurological tissue that permeates the entire body and provides a uniquely accessible means of influencing tone and function of underlying structures. Fascia and muscle generate and transfer kinetic energy in an environment by which functional movement relies on a combination of elastic recoil and eccentric control around a focal, multi-planar axis.

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