By the end of October this year, the regional office of the South Moravian Region received 16 complaints about masseurs suspected of providing physiotherapy services. This is the same as for the whole of last year.
One of the initiatives is aimed at the company Energyflex, s.r.o. – a spin-off plant, which was confirmed to Seznam Zprávám by regional office spokeswoman Alena Knotková.
Company manager Roman Farkaš offers acute unblocking of the spine or joints in Brno and Otrokovice. On the website, the interested party can choose Complete therapy – acute unblocking, in popular terms, they can “let themselves be crunched”.
“I will relieve, remove pain or problem, where there will be up to 80 percent improvement in the first visit,” writes the masseuse, and the online presentation is accompanied by videos with clients. It claims to provide manual therapy to correct joints or vertebrae. The interested party can only order through the website, paying 3500 crowns for the initial meeting.
“The use of the term therapy is inappropriate – due to its meaning of treatment, treatment, medical procedure – as it can give the impression that it is a matter of providing health services,” said regional spokeswoman Knotková. She pointed out that the company, which is based in the Medical Services Center in Králové Pol, Brno, is not authorized to provide medical services.
According to the commercial register, Energyflex is engaged in massage, reconditioning and regeneration services. The editors of Roman Farkaš requested the presentation of certificates. Unsuccessfully. “I have had a bad experience with the media. I will not comment,” he answered the phone and hung up. If, however, the inspection proves misconduct, the company could receive a fine of up to a million for the offense.
Criticism of authorities
Compliance with the law is monitored by health departments of regional authorities. The one from South Moravia emphasizes that the law defines the trade of masseurs as the provision of sports, reconditioning and regenerative massages, which are performed on healthy individuals.
But according to experts, authorities rarely check expertise. “There is zero control activity in this regard, and I think that even officials often do not know what activities fall exactly where,” said Toufar. The South Moravian Regional Office objects that it has inspections planned.
Without adequate education
The Union of Physiotherapists of the Czech Republic warns against unprofessional “crunching” of the neck or back. “These interventions belong in the hands of experienced, educated people,” union president Vladan Toufar told Seznam Zpravám. He alluded to the fact that only trained specialists can practice so-called manual medicine in our country.
“Elements of manual medicine are also tied to further education for physiotherapists. There is a fairly extensive certified course of at least 200 hours accredited by the Ministry of Health,” he continued, noting that serious illnesses can be hidden behind various “pains”.
The Union brings together approximately 1,200 physiotherapists who practice their profession in accordance with the Act on Health Services.
“Then there are people who operate under trade law, which is a completely different area. They are not supposed to provide health services, yet many of them offer a wide range of activities that are not part of their business. They do not have adequate education, they often have dubious courses that do not belong to the field of health care at all,” emphasized Toufar.
He did not want to comment on specific cases, however, he admitted that there are more initiatives and complaints about unfair practices. “I don’t have the exact numbers, but we can say that every week or 14 days we get some sort of stimulus.”
The Union itself does not have the leverage to affect health traders. He can only ask the relevant regional office to investigate the initiative from the field.
Doubtful masseuses often refer to themselves as chiropractors, but this field does not formally exist in the Czech Republic.
Graduated doctor and physiotherapist Filip Hrdlička, who works for the Spanish football club Betis Sevilla, draws attention to other unfair practices: Health traders often protect themselves with problematic certificates and completed training.
“They are typically professionally inadequate and at the same time open to any interested parties without educational criteria. Some have a value comparable to a certificate of completion of a children’s day in Horní Dolní,” he outlined his view.
He added that in the United States, for example, chiropractic is a three- to four-year university course. “I say this on purpose, because the pseudo-experts we’re talking about have weekend courses and lack any professional overlap.”
Experts explain that various jerks of the head or back belong to the manipulation methods intended for unblocking by force. However, due to the risk of side effects, even doctors with the necessary education rarely perform these “crunches”.
They exaggerate their abilities
Rehabilitation doctor Kateřina, who did not want to publish her full name out of fear, has also come across bizarre cases.
“A plumber or a former miner first takes a massage course. Then they can supplement, for example, the Dorn method (gentle manual therapy that mobilizes the joints and spine, editor’s note) or other techniques for which you often do not find certificates. And they pretend to be experts on herniated discs that they can fix,” she described.
According to Hrdlička, fake physiotherapists also use various tricks. “They avoid responsibility by calling their approaches, for example, as musculoskeletal system. Thanks to this loop, they cover themselves and keep their hands away from the consequences of their risky techniques,” he pointed out. According to him, masseurs or sports trainers often exaggerate their skills.
“I Won’t Just Crunch You”
There are countless offers for “muscle repair” online.
Seznam The News came across, for example, Jan Dragomir, who is listed in the commercial register as Providing physical education and sports services in the field of fitness instructor, and often pre-exercises on Facebook, where he has 10,000 followers.
On its website, it offers a “one-time training to correct the body” that is supposed to lead “to the correct alignment of the bones that could cause pain.” “I won’t just crunch you, I’ll also tape you,” he writes about the service, for which he charges 2,500 crowns.
And although it offers “crunching”, it is not listed in the National Register of Health Service Providers. He then states in his references that he has attended “countless” seminars in various areas of health and training.
He adds that he is still learning from “people who work in Asia and can help through traditional Chinese medicine” and also offers herbs to help with weight loss.
List News asked him if he had the credentials needed to crunch the bones he presents in videos on the site. “If you’re not interested in my service, I don’t even want to talk to you. People can come to training and they know who they are going to,” he responded.
He already responded briefly to the repeated question: “Have a nice time, see you later.”
“Manipulation techniques do not belong in the hands of laymen,” said doctor Hrdlička after watching the videos on Dragomir’s website. “If he doesn’t have the necessary education, he can’t do it. From my point of view, it is clearly wrong,” he added.
Check out a therapist
Due to similar cases, experts appeal to clients and patients to check their “doctors”. The National Register of Health Service Providers is used for this. “If the therapist looks strange, the patient or client can check him in the public register,” added Hrdlička.
“Any subsequent recovery of damages is a matter for the client. Because if he agrees to provide a service on the basis of a trade license, it is purely his decision,” pointed out Toufar.
The Union of Physiotherapists wants to raise awareness in this regard and is preparing a new website. According to its chairman, consideration is also being given to establishing a chamber of physiotherapists, which would have to be sanctioned by law.