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Choosing props wisely

By Hayley Leake Education for all 17 Jun 2016

Novice illustrator

Admittedly, I’m not a good illustrator. I’d like to think I’m getting better, that my little stick men and women are becoming more proportional with time, but this is probably wishful thinking. So it’s exciting when I discover new props and models to fill this gap. Recently I came across a disc herniation simulator.

Fragile bubble 

Admittedly, my first response was ‘wow, this is great, I can avoid my cruddy penmanship and use this tool!’ After a bit more thought, I began to worry strongly about the message of Danger in Me (DIM) that a model like this might send to a patient. The bulge is huge, shiny and red like a fragile bubble or what I imagine an aneurysm may look like. What if, rather than sending a message of ‘be cautious with flexion for a while’ this visual image inadvertently read ‘DON’T EVER, EVER FLEX!’, or rather ‘if you EVER flex this tenuous red balloon will BURST!

disc simulator

Education is vital

Honesty and transparency are important – I don’t think we need to sugar coat anything for a patient. But it’s worth considering the potentially fearful visual image that someone could walk out the door with. If we are going to use props like this, the right education is vital. Information about time of healing, expectation of recovery, and eventual return to all movement can help avoid an acute condition becoming chronic.

In the clinic

Should we use simulators like this in the clinic, and if so, what additional education would you provide? Are there any other props that might be sending messages of fear when used in isolation?


– Hayley Leake






We’re hitting the road and taking our NOI courses right across this great southern land:

Wagga Wagga 16-17 July Explain Pain

Gold Coast 30 Sept – 2 Oct Explain Pain and Graded Motor Imagery

Perth 15 – 17 October Explain Pain and Graded Motor Imagery


EP3 events have sold out three years running in Australia, and we are super excited to be bringing this unique format to the United States in late 2016 with Lorimer Moseley, Mark Jensen, David Butler, and few NOI surprises.

EP3 EAST Philadelphia, December 2, 3, 4 2016

EP3 WEST Seattle, December 9, 10, 11 2016

To register your interest, contact NOI USA:

p (610) 664-4465




  1. The other thing that strikes me immediately is the size. We know (intellectually) that model is over size but it makes the herniation look HUGE! I think that a model that had perhaps 6 or 8 vertebra, at normal size, with the herniation coloured the same as the rest, would be a lot less scary.

  2. The question is do we really need such props to explain certain issues in the tissues …..?
    London 🙃

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