CJ Puotinen
EFT Coach and Trainer


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Case Histories

Using EFT for Physical Therapy

by CJ Puotinen

(This report was published by Gary Craig on May 5, 2006, and updated the following year.)

Several years ago, 55-year-old Irene Mitchell’s car was broadsided by a truck. The crash left her with bruised ribs, contusions, a shattered left hip, and a shattered femur. She lost half of her blood volume and was not expected to live. Surgery repaired her hip with a stainless steel shaft, three pins, and screws. A week after the accident she was sent to an acute-care rehabilitation facility, and three weeks after that, she was moved to the Ramapo Manor Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in Suffern, New York.

My husband Joel and I volunteered at the nursing home, which is how we got to know Irene. Four months after the accident we mentioned that I would be teaching an EFT seminar. Irene was curious and interested. Because she wasn’t able to attend, I offered to give her a crash course at the nursing home.

The next Monday evening, I met with Irene and another lady in a private room. First I demonstrated the basic protocol as part of the Constricted Breathing exercise, in which you take several deep breaths and then inhale as deeply as you can. After a few rounds of EFT tapping, you take another deep breath and compare the two. Irene’s friend was surprised at how much easier and deeper her breathing became, but Irene, an experienced meditator and deep breather, didn’t notice much difference, I suggested we try a range-of-motion exercise. Irene chose her left leg for this experiment, explaining that while lying on her back, she could not raise it at all. Her physical therapist wanted her to exercise the leg, but it wouldn’t move. I asked if she would like to lie on the bed to do this and she said that reclining in the wheelchair would produce similar results. She slid into a 45 degree diagonal position and was able to raise her left leg about five inches.

The three of us tapped the Karate Chop point together, saying...
Even though my leg is stuck and won’t move.....
Even though I’m terrified of being stuck here the rest of my life because my leg won’t move.........
Even though my stuck leg is keeping me stuck in this wheelchair, I love and forgive myself, and I forgive anyone who had anything to do with my being here.

After three rounds of tapping the head and torso points using the reminder phrase “stuck leg,” Irene could raise her foot an inch or two higher.

That was progress, but her discomfort was obvious. I asked, “What’s restricting your movement?” and she answered, “The pain.”

So we tapped on the pain, this time moving more quickly through the Setup Phrases and tapping points. After a minute of tapping, she leaned back to try again. Her left foot slowly rose to where it had been at the start, then to where it was after the first session, then up to her waist, then past her shoulder level and, finally, above the level of her head, until it was pointing almost straight at the ceiling.

Startled, she lowered her leg, sat up, and asked, Did that really happen?” We assured her it had, so she reclined again and raised her leg to the ceiling six or eight times. Then she sat up and burst into tears. “It was a frightening moment,” she says. “I actually got scared, it was so unexpected. There is simply no way you can do something like that with an injury as serious and recent as this one.”

I gave Irene and her friend seminar handouts, including tapping charts to help them remember the sequence.

Two weeks later, Irene reported, “The EFT has made such a difference! When I tap, my leg feels as light as a feather. It doesn’t have that horrible heavy feeling, and there’s no pain. I still can’t believe it. Whenever I hear about miracles, I’m always skeptical, but it happened to me, so I can’t ignore it. I’m still trying to make sense of it.”

After tapping, Irene can lift her leg while lying on her back as well as when seated. “The ability to lift it high,” she says, “lasts about half an hour. Even then, the pain isn’t bad. It takes another hour for the pain to return, and as soon as that happens, I just tap again.”

Irene progressed from spending most of her day in a wheelchair to walking several times a day with a walker. “I was doing so well,” she says, “that my physical therapist decided it was time to start walking with a quad cane. That’s a four-footed cane with gripper feet for keeping your balance. I tried, but it was exceptionally painful. I broke out in a sweat so that my clothes were dripping, and my whole body shook. Until that point, I hadn’t shared any of my EFT adventures with my therapist. This is my business, and I like my privacy. But on my second day with the quad cane, which was yesterday, the pain was so awful that I stopped and told Ivan that I’d like to do an experiment. I told him to ignore me for a minute because I’m going to look silly and sound silly, but just let me do my thing. He said OK and waited politely while I tapped on how much I hate the pain, the pain is terrible, the pain limits my ability to walk, I want the pain to go away. Then I did a totally positive statement about how I’m free from pain and I will walk with the cane. Then on the third round I alternated back and forth. The final thing I said was that even though I had this pain, which I put in the past tense, I truly and deeply love myself, and even if it comes back, I accept myself, forgive myself, and forgive anyone who had anything to do with this pain. I said that I want to release this pain and I will release this pain, I’m releasing it, it’s gone. Then I stood up” – Irene started to cry at this point and explained that her progress was still a very emotional issue – “I stood up, and I just started walking with the cane, big giant steps. I asked Ivan if he could see me taking these big, big steps, and his eyes got very wide, he had an enormous smile on his face, and he kept asking, ‘What did you do? What did you do?’ I said, 'I’m walking with a cane!'

“When you start doing that,” she explains, “you have to set the quad cane down six inches in front of you. Then you move the leg that hurts while leaning on the cane, and then you move your good leg. It’s like learning how to walk all over again. Today before I walked with the cane I tapped, and not only did I take normal-sized steps, but I went a lot further in the therapy course. I did not have to put the cane down first, then my bad foot, then my good foot. I could pick up my affected leg and the cane at the same time, take a step, and then follow with my good leg. I walked 200 feet, which Ivan said compressed weeks of physical therapy into two days.”

Irene says she never ceases to be surprised at how well EFT works. It’s so easy to do that she has taught it to others. One of her friends at the facility, who is also in a wheelchair, was unable to lift her arm to shoulder height. “We did the whole series and she lifted her arm above her shoulder,” says Irene. “The increased range of motion surprised her, but what amazed her was that she did this with no pain. Then I asked her to pick up her foot, which she could barely do, getting it maybe three inches off the floor. We went through the sequence again and she lifted her leg up about three feet. She was shocked. She just couldn’t believe it.” Irene’s therapists caution her that she will never regain all of her body strength or mobility. “Hah!” she says. “What do they know? I’m determined to leave here without having to use a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair, and thanks to EFT, I’ll be doing that a lot sooner than anyone expected.”

EFT brought Irene some other unexpected benefits. “In 1995, I became disabled,” she explains, “and I could no longer work. I’ve had several abdominal surgeries, and I grow adhesions like wildfire. Several of the surgeries have been just to remove the adhesions, but they always come back. They have moved my organs into places where they don’t belong, they’ve wrapped themselves around my intestines and stomach, and I live in constant pain as a result. Morphine is the only thing that helps, so for years I lived on time-released morphine. My life was stressful, but after a while the stressful part of my life changed, so I was able to wean myself off of the morphine. I still had the pain, but the difference was that I could relax better, and I learned how to endure the pain. I continue to have it to this day, but when I tap about the pain in my hip and leg, that other pain goes away, too. I didn’t even think about it, so I didn’t think to tap on it, but that other pain is gone.”

It helped that Irene was totally focused. Nothing distracted her from concentrating on what she wanted and whatever prevented her from getting it. She has a lively imagination, and she used it to have meaningful conversations with herself. She let go of any expectations, kept her ego out of the way, and just let the energy flow. Irene is a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and when I first explained how EFT works, she had misgivings, but she decided to wait and see if it required her to do or think anything that conflicted with her religion. It didn’t, and Irene volunteered to assist any EFT practitioners or clients who have questions about its compatibility with the Jehovah’s Witness philosophy. It also helped that she didn’t hold grudges. Irene completely forgave the truck’s driver and sincerely blessed everyone who had anything to do with her injury and recovery. Last, once she got the hang of EFT, she used it all the time, as often as a hundred times a day.

Unlike most patients with her type of injury, Irene spent only two weeks with the quad cane before she was given a regular walking cane for assistance. She had been fitted with orthopedic sandals, as her left leg was now substantially shorter than her right. Irene is generously proportioned, so the combination of her new walking shoes, her weight, and the cane put stress on her arm.

A week after she got her cane, I visited Irene and was startled to find her looking sad and depressed. She held out her arms, one straight, the other bent, and said, “Would you believe I was just diagnosed with tennis elbow? It’s from putting all my weight on the cane. I’ve been tapping and tapping and nothing’s changed. This elbow hurts so much that I can’t straighten my arm out, I can’t turn it over, I can’t use the cane, and I can’t do anything.”

Irene reviewed the Setup Phrases she’d been using, and they were as imaginative and thorough as usual, but they just weren’t working.

I said, “Let’s try something. Sometimes if another person taps on your karate chop point and the top of your head, it helps complete the energy circuit and gets things flowing again.”  I did this many times with my husband, Joel, who had congestive heart failure.  Irene thought this was worth a try, so I stood beside her and with one hand tapped on her left hand’s karate chop point while the other hand tapped the top of her head. As I tapped, Irene did her setup phrase, talking to her cane and her elbow.  I continued tapping her karate chop point and the top of her head while she used her right hand to tap three quick rounds of the EFT points on her face and torso.

The whole thing took less than a minute. Then she reached straight ahead with both arms, elbows straight, and turned her hands upside down, right side up, and upside down again. “Isn’t that the darndest thing?” she exclaimed with a grin on her face. “It always surprises me.”

Once Irene got rid of her tennis elbow, she was walking everywhere. I knew what was coming next. She would soon want to dance.

Joel and I practiced ballroom dancing at Ramapo Manor once a week, and Irene never missed a session. I knew that one of her daydreams was to dance with Joel, and from time to time he would ask if she was ready. She would always smile and tap and say, “Not quite yet.” But one night  she changed her mind.

She later told us that she’d had an exhausting day. Her daughter took her to a restaurant for lunch, which was a major undertaking, then she had some intense physical therapy, so by the time we arrived, she was tired and in pain. But the music got to her, and when Joel put a slow rhumba on and offered his hand, she started tapping. EFT tapping, that is, not just toe tapping. Within a minute, she was free of pain and able to walk, with a little help from her cane, into his arms. The next thing we knew, she was dancing. This was very exciting, and several nurses and aides ran down the hall to watch. A few of them cried. This woman who wasn’t supposed to walk again was doing underarm turns! Irene loves to dance, and it showed. She barely used her cane at all, mostly for balance, and she had such a wonderful time, we knew it wouldn’t be long before she danced right out of the nursing home!

Irene’s next challenge was to walk hands-free, without her cane. She was able to take three or four steps as long as she had something to grab onto, like a chair or table, but it was a struggle. It also annoyed her that her gait was uneven – she lurched and felt awkward. When I stopped by to visit, Irene was sitting at a large round table looking dejected. If we had been sitting side by side, I would have tried tapping on her head and hand again, but we were on opposite sides of the table. So I asked her to describe everything she experienced while walking without a cane, and that led to a fresh perspective.

We said together while tapping our karate chop points,
Even though I’m just not able to do this, even though I can’t walk without holding onto something, even though I’m afraid of falling, my depth perception is all off, everything looks unfamiliar and strange, even though my left leg is shorter than my right and I’m wearing these orthopedic sandals that feel weird, even though I’ve gotten used to walking with a cane and now I have to balance my weight entirely differently, even though the whole thing makes me dizzy and the room starts to spin, and even though I’m afraid, truly afraid, that I’ll never be able to walk without a cane, I fully and completely accept myself, I love and forgive myself, I forgive the cane for not being here to support me, I forgive my leg for being so messed up, I forgive my physical therapist for pushing me to do this, I forgive myself for not feeling ready, and I choose to set all that aside, I choose to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to let go of the fear and hand this whole problem over to my brilliant mind. My brilliant mind is constantly gathering information through my nerves and muscles, through my foot’s contact with the floor, through my eyes and ears, through everything that affects my balance and coordination, and it’s processing that information better than any supercomputer on the planet. It’s making infinitesimal adjustments, and information is going back and forth from the floor to my brain through my perfectly functioning nerves, keeping my energy flowing and balanced, telling my muscles exactly what to do, so that I gracefully and effortlessly glide across the floor, and I enjoy walking fearlessly without a cane.

Irene did three quick rounds of tapping, using a different reminder phrase at each tapping point, starting with problem reminder phrases (can’t walk, no cane, no help, I’m afraid, dizzy, room spins, no support, worried, fall down, hurt myself) and ending with solution phrases (walking is easy, I feel terrific, pain-free, coordinated, energetic, graceful, going places, gliding, smooth, effortless, wonderful).

Then she stood up and – you guessed it – walked smoothly across the room. Her physical therapist came into the activity room just then and stood with his mouth open, not believing what he saw. She smiled, waved, and glided past him.

Irene’s recovery was expected to be slow not only because of her age (54) and the seriousness of her injuries but because she had just been diagnosed with diabetes, an illness that tends to delay the healing of broken bones. The staff tested her blood sugar five times a day to adjust her insulin, and she was on a restricted diet.

Then one night someone had a birthday party. Irene still hasn’t told me exactly what she ate, but it had something to do with cake, ice cream, chocolate, and more chocolate.

“I was so worried,” she says, “I couldn’t believe what I’d done. I knew that first thing in the morning they’d draw my blood, stare at the monitor, frown, scowl, and give me a lecture. I knew what was coming because it had happened before when I’d had a tiny piece of cake or a cookie or something. This was a lot more serious. I just didn’t want to think about it. Then I remembered you telling me that EFT can help balance blood sugar, so I tapped and tapped on how I can’t believe I ate all those things, my blood sugar is probably spiking off the charts, I’m definitely going to get a lecture, but I love and forgive myself, I forgive the birthday party and everything I ate, I forgive my pancreas for being in a state, I bless and love my body and EFT, and my body is repairing itself and bringing my blood sugar back into balance, tap tap tap tap tap.

“Sure enough,” she continues, “when they drew my blood, they stopped and frowned, double-checked the results, and frowned again. Uh-oh, I was in trouble for sure. Just as I was opening my mouth to confess, they said, ‘This is very strange. Your blood sugar is 40 points below where it usually is.’”

Irene didn’t mind receiving insulin injections – she just closed her eyes – but shortly before her discharge date, one of the nurses said, “OK, it’s time to learn how to do this yourself.”

Irene nearly fainted. She felt weak and shaky. She was deathly afraid of needles, and she said, “I can’t. It’s impossible.”

“Well, none of us are going to come to your house to do it for you,” the nurse replied.

Irene went through a serious bout of anxiety before she remembered to tap. “It took less than a minute,” she said. “I tapped on how the needles were keeping me healthy and saving my life. The needles were my friends. And when the nurse gave me my next lesson, I just followed her instructions and gave myself the shot. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I kept asking myself, ‘OK, what was the big deal?’”

One morning at breakfast, Irene felt an excruciating pain behind her eye. She described her symptoms to the friend sitting next to her, and her friend asked, “Did you tap on it?”

It hadn’t occurred to her, but she wasted no time getting started. “I had gotten so used to getting fast, almost instant results, “ Irene says, “that getting rid of this headache seemed to take forever. I must have tapped for 5 or 10 minutes. Finally the pain disappeared. But 10 minutes after that, the oddest thing happened. I felt this whoosh of water. I grabbed a napkin and held it to my ear, and it was soaking wet. Suddenly I realized what must have happened. The night before, I had washed my hair in a sink with one of those hand hoses, and I must have gotten water in my ear, where it stayed until the tapping released it.”

When she left Ramapo Manor months ahead of schedule, Irene stayed with one of her daughters in New York. Helping her daughter and taking care of her grandchildren took up most of her time, but Irene found a ballroom dance class and started lessons. She discovered that out in the real world, she needed her cane and occasionally her wheelchair, and she didn’t have as much time for uninterrupted tapping as before.  But she had no trouble traveling and soon resumed her busy life, spending half the year at her home in California and the other half with her daughter in New York with visits to family members in Texas and other places in between.

The following September, I taught a Level 2 EFT workshop in New York that Irene wasn’t able to attend, so she sent an email. She wrote, “I know that many are interested in how I am doing, particularly the kind folks I have met at previous workshops. If you like, you can read this update to them and be sure to send them my best wishes. Here is what has been going on with me.

“In March, my daughter invited me to go on a cruise with her. She said that I had to lose at least ten pounds, though, as one gains a lot of weight on a week-long cruise. I had never practiced EFT for weight loss before, I was just resistant to it for some reason. I think that’s because it isn’t as dramatic as the effect as on my leg. I decided to try it, though. I kept at it and tapped every time I wanted to eat things I shouldn't. Sometimes I had to tap for the desire to tap.  "Even though I don't want to tap about this weight problem because I really want to eat what I want..... ' After two months of tapping all the time and following a balanced diet, I dropped 25 pounds!! I have NEVER  had such a dramatic weight loss, ever!! Aside from the weight loss, there were unexpected benefits. Naturally, I could get around better. I had less pain in my leg (which makes sense when you are lugging around less weight) and navigating in the shower was a lot easier. The best, though, was the fact that my sugar readings went so low that I had to go from 25 units of insulin each night to only 5! My doctor is thrilled! So am I!

“I went on the cruise and gained 9 pounds, but that was expected and I am back on track. My leg is doing OK. I still tap on it when it hurts a lot. I particularly have problems with sitting on surfaces other than my bed or my wheelchair. If I sit on a chair in a restaurant, I have a great deal of trouble getting up. It hurts and my leg gets very stiff. No problem, tap tap tap and I get right up! My brother-in-law can't get over it. Neither can I ...you know, I still don't believe it! By the way, I am doing so well with my leg that while on the cruise, I went parasailing!! What a thrill!! And they didn’t think I would ever walk again!! Well they didn't say anything about parasailing or dancing.

“This year while in California, I was in a dance recital doing a VERY FAST jazz type dance...cane and all. Also I took and continue to take ballroom dance classes twice a week. I am getting pretty good, too, if I may say so myself. Watch out Joel, I am going to have you spin me around the floor!

“Another interesting thing happened last spring. My next door neighbor had her house painted and I got violently  ill. I was actually crying out in a very loud panicky way for hours. My sister stayed with me overnight, threatening to take me to the hospital. I couldn't stay out of the bathroom for more than 10 minutes at a time. I did not want to go to the local hospital. Finally, one of us got the idea for me to tap. Before I could finish the first round, my sister said she could see that I was starting to calm down. The pain was so intense, I couldn't believe it! I was yelling in a very loud voice, ‘Even though I have this terrible pain in my intestines….!”  Finally I was able to lie down and go to sleep. When I woke up, the pain was not so bad and I tapped again and again and I then got a good sleep. The next day, I had pain when I ate or drank anything so I tapped when I ate and drank. Thanks to tapping, I had a complete recovery and didn't have to go to the hospital.

“Now for my final EFT story. As you may remember, my cat Fuffa (the joy of my life) has a condition known as interstitial cystitis. This is due to a birth defect in his bladder that results in bouts of running to the litter box and bearing down in pain. I have to take him to the vet for expensive steroid shots and sometimes antibiotics. Last September, a year ago, I went to your EFT for Pets seminar and learned how to tap on and for him. He used to have at least five or six bouts of this every year, particularly when he would have allergy symptoms or the stress of the cross-country plane ride twice a year. Two months after the workshop, he had another bout of it. I tapped and tapped on him. His symptoms seemed less intense than usual and he recovered faster than usual. Now I tap on him a lot even when he is fine. I particularly tap when he seems stressed or has allergy symptoms. I also tap before we travel. I am happy to report that Fuffa has not had one single bout of this problem since that last one a year ago. This is unheard of for him and we are both so very happy.”

Six months after Irene sent that report, I called her for an update. Not only was Fuffa thriving, but Irene attributed a change in his behavior to his EFT tapping. From the time he was a kitten, Fuffa has hated to be groomed and would always fight to avoid being brushed. Now whenever Irene holds a brush at his grooming table, he jumps up purring and never wants the brushing to stop. “It has to be the EFT,” says Irene, “because that’s the only thing in his life that’s different. I never tapped on this grooming issue, it just happened.”

Irene is thriving, too. In fact, that May Irene was one of a group of nine dancers from Cat Orlando’s “On Your Feet Dance Productions” performing at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. “We danced to a jazzy cha cha,” she says, “and I was the dancer in the middle.”

Does Irene have any final advice for people interested in EFT?

“The one thing I can tell you,” she says, “is that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in EFT or not, it will still work. I feel guilty admitting that I still can't believe it myself!  Every time I start to tap and the results are great, I still get pleasantly surprised and say, ‘Isn't that the darndest thing!’ But facts are facts and one can't deny reality. So to all you believers and all you non-believers, I say: Keep tapping and tapping and tapping. Don't give up. It is well worth your efforts.”

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