Rob Estey-Willick,

Osteopath (Manual Practice) & Registered Massage Therapist

D.O.M.P., B.A., R.M.T.

Rob Estey-Willick, Osteopath, Halifax, Nova Scotia.jpg

I am a registered Osteopathic Manual Practitioner (D.O.M.P.) with the Nova Scotia Association of Osteopaths, and a Registered Massage Therapist (R.M.T.) with the Massage Therapists' Association of Nova Scotia. I graduated in 2012 from the 5 year osteopathy program at the Collège d’Études Ostéopathiques (Halifax) where I received the A. T. Still Award for Advancement of Osteopathy in the Field of Philosophical and Sociological Research. Prior to studying osteopathy, I graduated with honors and as valedictorian from the massage therapy program at Northumberland College (2006) in Halifax, as well as from McMaster University in 1996 (B.A. Political Science).

I have taught several courses at the Collège d’Études Ostéopathiques (Halifax), the Canadian College of Osteopathy (Winnipeg) and the Canadian School of Osteopathy, Manual Practice (Vancouver). Courses include:

Pelvis and Lower Back: focusing on treatment of low back, hip, sacro-iliac joint, sciatica, headaches and migraines related to low back and pelvic problems, and pregnancy related issues of the low back, hip, pelvis and ribs.

Respiratory System: focusing on treatment of the neck, upper back and shoulder, problems of the thorax restricting mobility of the shoulders, spine and ribs, and complimentary manual therapy treatment for respiratory issues such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, COPD, and sinusitis.

Pathophysiology of the Digestive System: focusing on awareness of signs and symptoms of digestive conditions, illness, and disease which warrant referral to a physician for appropriate medical follow up; and complimentary manual therapy treatment considerations for problems related to the stomach and esophagus (e.g. GERD / reflux) and for intestinal problems (e.g. constipation, IBS).

Research Methodology: (an introduction to qualitative research design)

I’ve also been an anatomy and physiology instructor at Northumberland College (Massage Therapy Diploma Program). Currently I’m taking a break from teaching to focus on research and development of a course in pediatric osteopathy.


Osteopathic Treatment of Newborns, Infants and Children:

I have a special interest in working with infants and children. I've developed a very gentle method of assessing and treating newborns for joint and soft-tissue related problems that doesn't involve the concept of adjustment. Essentially, I assess babies by holding them in various positions (of comfort) or having them lie on the treatment table to gently observe and test the ability of a baby to move its head and neck, arms and legs, and use very gentle mobility tests to determine how each joint of the spine, pelvis and ribs is able to move. If a baby is more comfortable being held by the parent or care-giver, I go with whatever the baby wants: there are many ways to modify treatment approach for babies and they're always the boss during treatment.

Newborns, babies and young children often have slightly misplaced bones, stiff joints, and soft tissue (muscle, fascia, tendons and ligaments) tension associated with those bone and joint related problems. The joint problems for newborns and infants are likely due to position and compressive forces in utero, or during labour and delivery, that create either a malposition of one bone in relation to its articulating partner, or excessive compression of two adjoining bones that leads to restricted mobility, compromised function (e.g. movement), and often pain. These bony problems and soft-tissue restrictions may compromise the blood-flow to and from surrounding tissues (organs, nerves) or may directly affect the function of the nerves themselves. For infants, these structural-biomechanical problems may be contributing factors with respect to digestive issues such as reflux and constipation, or may affect the ability of an infant to move their head and neck to achieve a good latching position, open their jaw comfortably, or engage a strong and coordinated sucking and swallowing action.

People I talk with about osteopathic treatment are often surprised that babies may need manual therapy like osteopathy; but problems of joint mobility in babies and young children are not uncommon. A joint that is moving normally has a nice suppleness, yields to gentle pressure on joint mobility testing, and moves easily and naturally with a baby's squirming, flapping, and kicking. A joint whose expression of movement is frustrated is usually perceived as rigid, the bones have the texture of a small stone or firm object, and the soft tissues surrounding and supporting the joints are felt as more tight, restricted and dense. Such joints and soft-tissues stand out as being quite obvious in comparison to the rest of the body of the baby, which is quite fluidic and soft.

It isn’t appropriate for babies and children to apply intensive manipulative pressures around dysfunctional joints and soft tissues. I simply offer a mild focal support, a gentle presence with my fingertips around the area that is not moving well, and continue to provide this fulcrum of support as the baby moves in order to encourage a change for the better with respect to mobility, tension, and discomfort. This approach requires a constant, focused mental and palpatory attention in order to make moment to moment changes, based on the baby’s movement, in the very gentle tension or compression applied around a joint in need of treatment. To a parent, it may look often as if I'm not doing anything; but there's a lot to pay attention to: local changes in muscle tension, local changes in joint mobility, local changes in temperature at the level of the joint problem, changes in a baby's breathing patterns, changes in a baby's disposition during treatment, and even reactive changes in other areas of the baby's body in response to changes at the local level being treated. Any or all of these changes require a subtle response by the osteopath in order to keep the baby as comfortable as possible and to optimize the potential for an effective treatment. An improvement in mobility and tension reduction is often perceived as a softening, an improved suppleness, or in the case of a more severely restricted joint, a very subtle click-like release as the joint surfaces release followed by an almost immediate easing of soft-tissue tension and an appreciable improvement in mobility at the joint level. Offering treatment with this approach, the baby has more control over the treatment since it is based upon her or his movement and respect for any expressions of apparent comfort or discomfort. The treatment of joints and soft tissues is not forced; rather, the treatment is catered to the baby's enjoyment (many seem to like it) or tolerance, and therefore is more well-received, well-integrated, and safe.

Osteopathy can be helpful and supportive to other treatment options for reducing and helping to resolve common problems experienced by infants and young children, such as GERD (reflux), constipation, nursing issues (difficulty latching, sucking, swallowing), laboured breathing, chronic sinus and ear infections, sleep challenges and more. Osteopathy is not a substitute for medical care of problems noted above. The kinds of problems babies frequently experience are unlikely to be caused exclusively by structural-biomechanical issues and often babies will experience these problem in the absence of any positional or mobility issues of joints and soft-tissue; thus, the need for parents to work closely with their family doctors. However, in my clinical experience I’ve seen many instances in which osteopathic treatment appears to have had some influence over the issues for which parents bring their babies to my clinic. I’ve also seen instances in which babies don’t to experience any changes in conditions (e.g. reflux) but areas of visible and/or palpable misalignment of joints seem to improve with osteopathic treatment and babies seem to be more comfortable and less distressed. Joint and soft-tissue related problems in babies and young children are important to address should their persistence begin to affect growth and development of the child.

It is important to note that we don’t make diagnoses as osteopaths, but we are able to use our knowledge and palpation skills in conjunction with other information conveyed by parents from other health care professionals (or by those professionals directly) to form a clinical impression that guides treatment. I believe it is of the greatest importance to work in collaboration with family physicians and other health-care practitioners to foster a team-oriented approach to health care that promotes optimal development, growth and general good health for my young patients.


Osteopathic Treatment for Adults and Young Adults:

I work with people of all ages and address a wide variety of conditions using a hands-on approach to treatment. Osteopathy can be an effective therapy for promoting health of patients experiencing the effects of acute injury, chronic pain and chronic conditions, and relief from general tension, aches and stress. I work with patients to restore and maintain optimal soft-tissue and joint mobility and alignment, and overall balance and function of the body. I have a gentle and holistic approach to assessing and treating the body. Osteopathy does not have to be painful to be effective and I remind my patients every time I see them that they are in control and if they do experience discomfort or pain during treatment that they should let me know so that we can modify the approach to ensure their safety and comfort.

I am a member in good standing of the Nova Scotia Association of Osteopaths (NSAO), the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO: Affiliate Member), and the Massage Therapists' Association of Nova Scotia (MTANS).


If you have questions about whether osteopathy may be helpful for you, a family member, friend or colleague, please feel free to contact me using the Contact Form below.

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