A car accident in which Karen slammed on the brakes to avoid killing a bicyclist led to a chronic knee problem. The pain gradually worsened, until she had to avoid almost any exercise, including walking up the stairs. Knee surgeries only made the condition worse. Despite that, doctors declared the surgery a success (although they chastised her for failing to recover from it), and attributed her problems to a rare bout of post surgical arthritic conditions. Thirteen years later, Karen had to alternate between crutches and a wheelchair. Due to her immobility, she had gained a great deal of weight, which doctors now blamed for the knee problem, and which completely altered the quality and landscape of her life — in terms of her activities and lifestyle, her fitness and health, even her friends and social life. When she was told about Hanna’s clinic, 2 hours north of her, she scoffed: Despite his 8 month waiting list at the time, her doctors had never heard of Somatics, and she wasn’t interested in a quack. She read some of his research and findings, and realized that Hanna’s work was not only entirely western and biological in nature, it was more scientific and rational than most of the approaches and understandings her doctors had employed.
In the first few minutes of the first session with Karen, Hanna found the problem. The musculature of her right side, hip, and shoulder was frozen in spasm for what he estimated had been about 11 or 12 years (he was off by one year). He measured and showed her that there was a 9-inch difference between the reach of her right and left arm. No doctors had seen, measured, or diagnosed this (and none of them would have known how treat this problem if they had).
The treatment Hanna prescribed for this required 50 minutes. By the end of that very first hour he ever worked with her, Karen got up from the table, walked out of Hanna’s office without crutches, and walked down the stairs for the first time in a decade. Shocked, she ran back up and down the stairs repeatedly. Hanna had Karen come back for one more session to address some minor imbalances in her back muscles, to avoid any future back problems (which she of course did without hesitancy). Karen’s knee has been pain free, and her side and the rest of her body fully functional, in the 20 years ever since. She has never returned to the same postural prison again. Like most all other recipients of this work, regardless of her weight and age, she has gone on to enjoy increased flexibility and freedom from pain she never imagined. In fact, in her sixties now, Karen is more flexible and devoid of “usual” aches and pains than she has ever been and than most people of any age.
Karen asked Hanna where she could go to learn how to do this, and he explained he was the only one who did it. She asked him again, and he said that he had more writing and developing to do. Three years later, when he announced the first training in Clinical Somatic Education, Karen was one of the first to apply. Karen trained with Hanna, and when Hanna died right after that, it was Karen who organized his students and who was entrusted with taking over operation of his program. She is the first, longest-serving, and most centrally involved trainer and director in the Clinical Somatic programs, and has now dedicated her time to implementing Hanna’s original program at Somatic Systems Institute.