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Finding Dysfunction: A Master Clinician’s Approach to Finding the Cause of Patients' Pain

Course Description

This course highlights how master clinicians actually use very simple, easy to apply concepts to treat their patients. They usually apply 1-2 simple frameworks or models over and over and over again and makes them really good at this one thing - finding the source of patient's pain.

This course will give you a unique and systematic framework for assessing the body and finding the true cause (what we call the driver) of a patient’s limitation of motion and/or symptoms. The major focus-points of the approach are the muscle, joint, fascial, and compensatory barriers that a patient has in their system that are causing their limitation of motion and/or symptoms. You will learn to assess the body in such a way that they will look beyond the pain area and find the dysfunctions causing the limitation of motion and/or symptoms, which are oftentimes in other parts of the body. This 2-day course will cover the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, and foot, including a look at spinal referred pain. This course is approximately 70% lecture and 30% lab.




What people are saying!

Top Takeaways

  • JMFC framework and Hypo/Hyper Compensation Model - what each is, how to apply the framework and model, both in theory and on actual patient case studies.
  • The instructor gives a ton of clinical pearls/real patient examples of what she has learned along the way and what's worked and hasn't worked.
  • Both hypertonicity and hypotonicity drives inhibition and weakness.
  • Why we choose to assess and treat in a specific/systematic order and the answer usually always comes back to something anatomical that people have often never fully understood.

What makes this course great?

Finding Dysfunction highlights the value of what we do as clinicians: knowing where to treat to change the patients pain/get their life back. Patients seek out certain therapists who have a great reputation for making a difference and these simple concepts/frameworks will help clinicians develop that reputation.


Course Objectives

At the completion of this seminar, the participant will be able to:

  • Synthesize data from a clinical exam to develop a master-level approach to finding the root cause of upper and lower extremity pain
  • Identify 4 pathological barriers to motion which can contribute to peripheral joint pain
  • Apply the Joint-Muscle-Fascia-Compensation Framework to justify single and multiple dysfunctions that can contribute to peripheral joint pain
  • Devise 1-2 pain pathways for upper and lower extremity joints in all 3 planes of motion
  • Apply the Hypo-Hyper Compensation Model, and as outlined in the manual, and identify 4 ways in which this model contributes to the origin of peripheral joint pain
  • Accurately describe the significance of applying the Test-Treat-Retest concept and justify the use of 1-2 manual therapy techniques for each pathological barrier to motion
  • Explain 2 mechanisms by which mechanical pain is perceived in the brain
  • Interpret 3 key pieces of the patient's subjective history that give the clinician information by which to find dysfunction effectively and efficiently

Course Instructors

Kelly Poppaw


Kelly holds a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University. Kelly received her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University where she was a NCAA Division One athlete and Captain of the Women’s Soccer Team. As a Certified Integrated Manual Therapist, Kelly is credentialed through Great Lakes Seminars to assess mechanical dysfunction from a holistic perspective, and she is very comprehensive in her treatment approach. She uses a wide variety of manual therapy techniques, functional exercise, and patient education to provide people with an exceptionally high quality of care. She treats orthopedically across the entire age spectrum from birth to adult to geriatrics. Kelly created this course after working under Patrick Hoban for a number of years. She has a passion to teach clinicians how to think systematically; find the root of the patient’s problem on day-one, and eliminate the potential for misdiagnosis. Kelly is a Physical Therapist and Clinic Director at Probility Physical Therapy, a Trained Steward of the leadership methodology Intentional Energetic Presence (IEP) and uses her experience in these areas to create and sustain thriving businesses and cultures.

Kelly Poppaw

Course Outline



Continental Breakfast


Lecture: Introduction, Overview of the Keys to Finding Dysfunction


Lecture: Key Concepts - Discussion on Mechanical Pain


Lecture: Key Concepts with Finding Joint Dysfunctions


Lunch (on your own)


Lecture: Key Concepts with Finding Muscle Dysfunctions


Lecture: Key Concepts with Finding Muscle Dysfunction, cont.


Review of Evidence-Based Literature for Today's Topic's


Review Questions and Self-Assessment





Continental Breakfast


Lecture: Review Questions


Lecture: Key Concepts with Finding Fascial Dysfunctions


Lecture: Key Concepts with Finding Compensation Dysfunctions


Lunch (on your own)


Lecture: Applying the Join-Muscle-Fascia-Compensation (JMFC) Framework (identifying key dysfunctions in hip, knee, ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow, and wrist regions)


Lecture: Case Studies and Speed Thinking using Pain Algorithms


Questions, Post-Test, Course Evaluation



Course PDF

Course Brochure PDF