Dr. Chris Capilli, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, MS, received his undergraduate degree in sports medicine from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, followed by his master’s and doctoral degrees in physical therapy from D’Youville College, also in Buffalo. He then completed a Fellowship in Manual Therapy at Daemen College in Amherst, NY. Dr. Capilli works for Arnot Health in Elmira, NY, and has been a practicing clinician for over 10 years, working in a number of different settings but primarily outpatient orthopedic. He’s also a HawkGrips instructor who loves to teach and appreciates how clinicians can share different perspectives to enhance learning experiences in and out of the classroom. When Dr. Capilli isn’t in the clinic or instructing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and four children, who he coaches in basketball, baseball, soccer and football.

Dr. Chris Capilli PT HawkGrips IASTM Physical Therapist

Dr. Chris Capilli, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT

How did you first learn about HawkGrips?

I had been an instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) practitioner for years prior to utilizing HawkGrips instruments, including all of the various types on the market. But I wanted to continue trying new products to see if there was an instrument I could apply to my treatments that would be more effective and patient-friendly than the options I already knew about. While I was looking at a physical therapy forum page four years ago, I noticed a lot of discussion about HawkGrips instruments. That encouraged me to look into them further, so I went to the HawkGrips website and was sold.

How have you incorporated HawkGrips into your professional practice?

They are an essential tool in my toolbelt. I literally use them with every patient since soft tissue mobility is, in my opinion, an integral part of the rehab process. I’m able to incorporate the instruments with manual therapy and modalities, in both facilitatory and inhibitory techniques, as well as with various other therapeutic interventions.

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

I’ve utilized the instruments in a variety of ways, often trying to think outside the box. For example, I’ve used them in the pool during an aquatic treatment with patients and have seen great results with the warmer water. I also find that utilizing them in a specific order is most beneficial, especially prior to manual therapy and therapeutic exercise.

In addition, I’ve applied HawkGrips in collaboration with a speech therapist for the treatment of cancer patients. Some patients who are status-post chemotherapy for throat cancer visit me to improve their cervical mobility, then go to speech therapy to improve their speaking and swallowing abilities. So combined with other cervical treatments, I began to utilize HawkGrips instruments along their trachea and SCM (sternocleidomastoid muscle) bilaterally to increase tissue mobility while they swallow and produce other sounds. The patients are then sent to speech therapy immediately afterward and have had tremendous results, exponentially increasing their recovery time.

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

In multiple ways, the benefits are astounding! First is the patient’s experience throughout the treatment. They can appreciate the difference because of their ability to see and feel the way the instruments are mobilizing tissue while breaking up and ironing out the fibrotic nodules. The versatility of HawkGrips is also an important aspect, because you can use the instruments with a variety of treatments to mobilize tissue, facilitate or inhibit a muscle group in both static and dynamic ways, or even for inflammatory conditions. It’s very difficult to find any other treatment that can mimic these benefits.

For clinicians, HawkGrips offer an effective way to prep the tissue, aligning the fibers that are disorganized and dehydrated to produce a more effective outcome from their selected treatment. Treatment with HawkGrips also places much less stress on their hands, since the weight of the instrument takes up slack in the tissue when applied to the skin, and then only minimal force needs to be exerted.

Can you provide details about a specific HawkGrips success story?

I treated a patient who had a total knee replacement back in 2011. He developed an infection after the surgery and needed another replacement a year later. The patient went to formal physical therapy and over the years maximized that therapeutic benefit but his active knee range of motion (AROM) remained very limited. He’s a middle-aged man who likes to exercise, box, ride his bike, etc. The patient came to me in 2016 and I began using HawkGrips instruments to increase soft tissue mobility throughout his quadriceps musculature and around his scar. After five therapy sessions of utilizing the tools in conjunction with other manual techniques and therapeutic exercise, we started to see a significant change in his AROM. After 12 visits, his knee flexion increased about 30-40 degrees, he was more functional and felt elated that he could be so active again without limitation. His physician was also pleased with the results and became very interested in learning more about HawkGrips. (Read the HawkTalk Blog post about this patient’s transformative treatment for additional insight).

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

I’ve also used ASTYM, SASTM and Graston tools, but HawkGrips are far superior in many ways. They have more treatment edges, enabling the clinician to treat a variety of surfaces and conditions. The handle for each HawkGrips instrument is conducive to all hand sizes, and the textured grips make it easier to control the tool throughout the whole movement and complete your task. The weight of the instrument is also beneficial. HawkGrips instruments tend to be a little heavier than other tools on the market, which allows for deeper penetration of the soft tissue before applying direct manual pressure.

What do you like about being an instructor?

I enjoy being part of a company that’s innovative and forward-thinking in their ideas. Instructing enables me to share my knowledge and experience regarding HawkGrips instruments with fellow clinicians. I like seeing the change in the way they look at treating soft tissue and identifying adhesions with these instruments. The conversations I have with course attendees are mutually fulfilling, because we discuss different cases they have and share knowledge about how to use the instruments for the next time they treat those patients or conditions.

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

If you want to advance your skills and find that linchpin you’re missing when treating patients to get better results, HawkGrips is the elite choice. I’ve utilized these instruments for four years now and they are an absolute game-changer. The results I’ve had with my patients make me wonder what I was doing before discovering HawkGrips. At the end of the day, you have to remind yourself that if you want to be the best you have to work with the best, and by definition that means HawkGrips.

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