FASCIAL UNWINDING
with Thomas Attlee

PART 1: The Arm and the Leg - Sun 13th September 2020 (£90/£100)
PART 2: The Neck and the Trunk - Sat 3rd October 2020 (£90/£100)

Venue: British College of Osteopathic Medicine, 6 Netherhall Gardens, Finchley Road, London, NW3 5RR

Booking: Please complete the online application form and send payment

Early Bird Fee: £90 each day if fully paid by 12th August 2020 (£100 after that date)

Special Offer: £160 for both days booked in advance by 12th August 2020

Further information: Please contact info@ccst.co.uk or 020 7483 0120

Fascia is now recognised as having profound and widespread significance for many aspects of health, with numerous research programmes in many therapeutic fields. Its significance was first identified by Andrew Taylor Still (the founder of Osteopathy) in the mid 1800s, but it is only recently that his insights are finally becoming widely appreciated and the value of fascia more fully acknowledged.

“The soul of man seems to dwell in the fascia of the body” - Andrew Taylor Still

  • Fascia holds our physical structure together, maintaining tensegrity

  • It penetrates deep into the internal structure of cells, to the nucleus of the cell.

  • It provides an essential communication system throughout the body

  • It has a vast sensory nerve supply

  • It makes substantial and profound connections with the autonomic nervous system

  • It transmits forces, injuries and restrictions throughout the body

  • It retains memories of injury and trauma (tissue memory)

  • It carries emotional tensions

Woking with the fascia is an extremely valuable process with potentially profound repercussions – whether working with musculo-skeletal injuries, chronic pain and restriction, emotional tension, profound debilitating trauma, or overall integration of the body-mind.

These two seminars will be very practical and interactive days. They will be led by Thomas Attlee, principal of the College of Cranio-Sacral Therapy, presenting an approach to Fascial Unwinding that is not generally available elsewhere. Thomas’ unique way of working with Fascial Unwinding provides a profoundly effective means of interacting with the fascia, which can be transformative for many circumstances and an invaluable resource in day to day practice.

For those new to Fascial Unwinding these seminars provide an excellent means of understanding and experiencing this powerful and profound process.

For those already familiar with Fascial Unwinding, they provide valuable further insight, detailed attention to refining skills and deepening engagement, enabling increased confidence in working with fascia and its application within the cranio-sacral process.

I used to think that Fascial Unwinding was a superficial waste of time. Wow! What a difference!! One of my sessions was one of the most profound Cranio-Sacral sessions I have ever received

There was so much useful learning in the day. It has really transformed my understanding of Fascial Unwinding

Although I have practised Cranio-Sacral Therapy for many years, I had never encountered Fascial Unwinding before. This is a revelation!

I had heard that Fascial Unwinding was superficial and not very relevant. These two weekends certainly dispelled any such ideas. I am so pleased to have discovered this remarkable process.

I can’t wait to put all this into practice with my patients

I feel that I really understand Fascial Unwinding for the first time

I used to find Fascial Unwinding a real struggle, but now it’s suddenly become easy

I thought I was doing OK with Fascial Unwinding. Little did I realise how limited my skills were - until now! A completely new understanding!

I’ve always loved Fascial Unwinding but now I adore it

A really enjoyable and useful day

Fascia:

The significance of fascia was frequently emphasised by Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy, who provided many well-known comments on the subject in his Philosophy of Osteopathy (1899):

  • ‘We see in the fascia the framework of life, the dwelling place in which life sojourns.’

  • ‘I know of no part of the body that equals the fascia.’

  • ‘In every view we take of the fascia, a wonder appears.’

  • ‘By its action we live and by its failure we die.’

  • ‘When you deal with the fascia, you deal with the branch offices of the brain, and why not treat it with the same degree of respect.’

  • ‘The soul of a man seems to dwell in the fascia of the body.’

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Despite Andrew Taylor Still’s profound insights more than a hundred years ago, the conventional view of fascia has until recently not recognised or appreciated its nature and significance. Fascia has for the most part been regarded merely as packing material that fills the spaces between more significant structures, with a limited mechanical role in the function of the body – allowing free gliding movement between adjacent tissues (muscles over bones, muscle bundles in relation to each other, tendons over bones, etc.) and providing a course for interstitial fluid flow.

Only in the past few years has research finally confirmed Andrew Taylor Still’s insights and the true significance of fascia.

Tensegrity

Fascia provides the matrix within which the rest of the body is contained. It holds our physical structure together, maintaining tensegrity – a system of reciprocal tension through which any pull or imbalance is transmitted through the whole and affects the whole. We might think of the bones and muscles as providing the main support for the body, but it is in fact the fascia which maintains our integrity.

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Profound connection

Fascia not only envelops every structure in the body, providing continuity and interconnection throughout the body, but also penetrates deep into the internal structure of cells, passing through the cell membrane into the nucleus of the cell, via molecules known as integrins. Integrins are molecules located within the cell membrane and nuclear membrane, connecting extracellular and intracellular matrices, and enabling continuous interconnection and communication from the surface of the skin to the interior of every cell and nucleus in the body.

Communication system

Fascia provides an essential communication system throughout the body. It acts as a liquid crystalline matrix carrying high-speed messages via electrical charges. These communications travel much faster than the nervous system, transmitting information regarding tension and injury to all parts of the body. As geneticist and evolution scientist Mae-Wan Ho describes it, liquid crystallinity provides exquisite sensitivity and responsiveness and optimises the rapid noiseless intercommunication that enables the organism to function as a coherent coordinated whole.

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Sensory supply

Fascia has a substantial sensory nerve supply. Our central nervous system receives its greatest amount of sensory nerves from our myofascial tissue, providing more sensory input than our eyes, ears or skin.

 

 

Autonomic nervous system connections

Fascia makes substantial and profound two-way connections with the autonomic nervous system. Fascia is densely innervated by mechanoreceptors, which are responsive to movement and pressure. Stimulation of Ruffini and interstitial mechanoreceptors induces profound changes in the autonomic nervous system, with an increase in vagal activity, which results not only in changes in local fluid dynamics and tissue metabolism, but also global neuromuscular, emotional, cortical and endocrinal changes, leading to muscle relaxation, a more peaceful mind, and less emotional arousal – changes associated with deep and healthy relaxation.

Fascia is also activated by sympathetic nerve stimulation, so stress and trauma can induce tension and contraction throughout the fascial system. Working with the fascia, particularly through fascial unwinding, can therefore significantly reduce sympathetic activity and hyperarousal, settling and balancing the autonomic nervous system, bringing greater tranquility and integration, and countering the many adverse physiological effects of excessive sympathetic stimulation.

Contractile

It is now recognised that fascia contracts independently of muscles. Smooth muscle cells have been discovered in fascia, enabling active fascial contractility, thereby retaining the effects of emotional tension and physical injury. Tonus regulation of fascial smooth muscle cells appears to be activated by the sympathetic nervous system.

 

Transmits throughout the body

Restrictions or disturbances to the fascia, whether from injury, inflammation or sclerosis, are transmitted throughout the body, potentially inducing adverse consequences in distant parts of the body. The degree to which these fascial restrictions affect other parts of the body will depend on many factors, such as the severity of the restriction, the underlying tension in the fascia as a whole, and the presence of other fascial restrictions or weaknesses imposed on the body by previous injury or disease.

 

 

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Tissue memory

Fascia retains memories of injury and trauma as tissue memory. This may manifest in two principal forms. The fascia may maintain the effects of physical injury and tension indefinitely even when healing appears to be complete, leading to continuing symptoms – until the fascial restriction is released. Secondly, during fascial release, memories of the incident or circumstances which led to the fascial tension may arise to consciousness, with a corresponding emotional release.

Emotional associations

Fascia carries emotional tensions as well as and in association with physical injury and tension, often enabling the release of deeply held emotions and trauma through fascial unwinding.

 

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Deeper understanding of fascia

Straubesand states that fascia is an actively adapting organ, with much greater functional importance than previously recognised, and the close links between fascia and autonomics may have far-reaching clinical implications.

Kovacs suggests that we view the body as a cybernetic system in which intervention is seen as stimulation for complex internal self-regulatory processes.

Schleip adds that it is more appropriate to assume the role of a facilitator who is skillfully engaging with a self-regulatory process within the organism, rather than as a master practitioner imposing skillful techniques upon the body.

Despite these observations, however, most approaches to working with the fascia are still working through mechanical means.

In fascial unwinding (as taught at the College of Cranio-Sacral Therapy), we are genuinely engaging with the self-regulatory cybernetic system within the body – the body’s own feedback mechanisms, and its own choices as to where and how to move – and we are truly acting as facilitators rather than as interveners.

Fascial unwinding

Working with the fascia, particularly through fascial unwinding, is an extremely significant process with potentially profound repercussions - whether working with musculo-skeletal injuries, chronic pain and restriction, emotional tension, profound debilitating trauma, or overall integration of the body-mind.

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Unfortunately, it is not practised or understood by many Cranio-Sacral Therapists. Some Cranio-Sacral Therapists even claim that they don’t need Fascial Unwinding because they are working at a deeper level that renders Fascial Unwinding unnecessary. This simply indicates an outdated lack of understanding of Fascial Unwinding. Fascial Unwinding reaches levels that are not addressed by other branches of Cranio-Sacral Therapy, as indicated by the many examples of patients who have received substantial Cranio-Sacral Therapy on other levels without success, for whom Fascial Unwinding has proved to be the key element that has transformed their health and their life.

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Fascial Unwinding is an exceptionally profound and valuable process that is an extremely useful resource in any Cranio-Sacral Therapist’s repertoire, particularly in resolving deep trauma. It is a very valuable aspect of cranio-sacral integration, expanding the therapeutic horizons to further levels, and extending the range of effective application of cranio-sacral therapy. It is an intrinsic part of the treatment process for many patients, often the most effective approach for specific circumstances, and sometimes the only approach that will effectively address certain conditions. Working with fascial unwinding can bring about therapeutic results that are not reached without fascial unwinding.

Case Histories:

Please scroll left or right to see more case histories

Charles:

Charles was a violinist, and quite an eminent soloist, but he was no longer able to perform because his shoulder had gradually become tighter and tighter over the years and had not only lost the flexibility required to play, but had also become increasingly painful, even on lifting his arm. There had been no specific injury; the condition seemed to have arisen simply from the persistent pattern of use. He had received many different treatments, including regular Cranio-Sacral Therapy – but not including Fascial Unwinding.  Fascial Unwinding was able to release the restrictions in his shoulder and arm very rapidly and he was soon able to resume his playing career.

Judith:

Judith was in her 40s, suffering from various symptoms on her left side – tightness in her chest, pain and numbness down her left arm to her little finger. This had been developing for several years, gradually getting worse. The obvious immediate concern suggested by her symptoms was a possible heart condition. She had been to her doctor and undergone various tests which showed no cardiac pathology - and yet her symptoms were suggestive of a heart condition.
Tuning in to her cranio-sacral system, there was certainly a distinctive quality around her heart and her pericardium (the pericardium is the fascial sheath that envelopes the heart) – but not the qualities of a heart pathology, more the qualities of contraction, holding on to something, holding on to sadness, holding onto grief. As I engaged with her system, my hands resting gently around her heart and pericardium, I told her about the qualities that I was feeling and asked her if it meant anything to her.
She explained that a few years earlier her husband had died. She had two small children so she had tried to be strong and supportive for them, and not upset them by showing her grief. She had tried to get on with life. As she talked, she began to cry. She continued to tell me her story and continued to cry gently as she spoke. She told me that she had never had a chance to express her grief, had never really cried about her husband’s death, and how it was such a relief to be able to talk about it and cry about it now.
As she spoke, the fascia of the pericardium started to unwind and release, and the quality around her heart softened, loosened, relaxed, and opened up. Her symptoms, both in her chest and down her left arm, disappeared instantly - those symptoms that were indeed indicative of the heart, but not as a heart pathology, not anything that a cardiac test could reveal, but grief held in her heart.

Arabella:

Arabella was 12 years old and her right knee had been painful for a long time – she wasn’t sure how long but it seemed like years. It was preventing her from playing sport, or running, and even day to day activities with her friends were constantly disturbed by her knee pain. Within the context of overall treatment, it was immediately obvious that the imbalance was coming very specifically from the knee itself, but neither she nor her father could remember any injury that might have caused the problem. Since it was evidently appropriate, I included Fascial Unwinding of the knee in the treatment, and as the knee found its own way to a point of release, Arabella suddenly had a vivid memory of an incident a few years earlier when she had been sitting on the side of a boat with her legs dangling down the side, and the boat had moved up against the quayside, squashing her right knee. It hadn’t seemed like a significant injury at the time and it had been several years ago, but that injury had been lodged in her knee ever since, disturbing its fluent function and gradually causing increasing strain on the surrounding tissues. With the release through Fascial Unwinding, her knee recovered instantly and no further treatment was needed.

Anne:

Anne had been suffering from persistent pains in her right arm for more than two years. She had no idea what might have caused it and couldn’t remember any injuries or accidents. Various medical tests revealed nothing and several weeks of physiotherapy had not helped. She had lived with it for months, but was finding it increasingly limiting and frustrating.

As I engaged with her cranio-sacral system and initiated the process of Facial Unwinding, her arm seemed to have a mind of its own. It started to twist slowly and to pull back, further and further, far beyond what one might have expected to be comfortable (but with no discomfort) until it was fully stretched behind her back into an extremely twisted position (still with no discomfort). At this point, her arm came to a standstill, the movements in the arm settled into stillness, rhythmic motion reached a still point – and after a few seconds, there was a powerful sense of release and softening. As the arm released, Anne suddenly remembered an incident 3 years earlier when she had been taking her dog for a walk. The dog had seen a cat going in the opposite direction and had taken off at high speed in the direction of the cat, dragging Anne’s arm with it. The forces imposed upon Anne’s arm and the patterns of tension set up by the sudden pulling had been held into the tissues ever since, gradually becoming more and more consolidated. Allowing the arm to find its way back to that original position of injury enabled the release of those forces, and as so often happens in Fascial Unwinding, as the tissues released, a vivid memory of the incident came to mind. Anne’s symptoms disappeared immediately.

 

Cynthia:  

Cynthia was 82 years old and not very mobile. She was bent over, using walking sticks, and shuffling along somewhat uncomfortably. Her weekly physiotherapy sessions seemed to have done all they could. She had been receiving acupuncture for some time, and she just wondered if Cranio-Sacral Therapy might possibly help at all.

There was a considerable accumulation of tightness throughout her body (82 years worth), and there was plenty to do in terms of treatment, but her hips were the main source of restriction that were preventing her from walking freely. I treated her once a week and within the context of overall treatment, included some Fascial Unwinding of the hips. I started very carefully, just a little bit of brief very gentle unwinding, to see how she would respond, and not wanting to disturb years of accumulated compensations and adaptations too suddenly. She responded well. Within a few weeks she was standing upright, had abandoned her sticks and was walking freely and confidently. As we continued the treatments, she commented one day during the hip unwinding, as her left foot floated past her face “I think I might take up ballet dancing”.

Harry:

Harry was a carpenter. At least he had been a carpenter. He was only in his early forties, but he was no longer able to work because his shoulders and arms had seized up so badly that he could hardly move them and certainly couldn’t do his job as a carpenter. He had no explanation for his predicament; it had just gradually developed over the years, steadily becoming worse and worse. Of course he had been to the doctor and had had extensive physiotherapy and osteopathy, but his shoulders and arms simply continued to seize up tighter and tighter. They were certainly very restricted. It was difficult to get any movement out of them, especially the right shoulder.

Within the context of overall treatment, I worked particularly with Fascial Unwinding on his right arm and shoulder. Progress was slow. For the first few sessions, there was only a slight increase in mobility, but Harry felt that there was at least some progress. During the sixth session, we were working as usual on unwinding his arm; as usual there was very little movement, but at least there was a little more each session. We reached a still point, and as so often with Harry the still point lasted a long time. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain and at the same time he announced: “I’ve just remembered something very strange. When I was 16, I was an apprentice carpenter, and me and the lads were working on this old house, cutting out rafters from the roof. We had to saw through these thick wooden beams above our heads and it was tough. My shoulder got really painful, but of course I didn’t want to look feeble in front of my mates, so I had to keep sawing. I’ve just felt that very same pain again in my shoulder. It’s really weird. I haven’t thought about that for years.”

Harry hadn’t wanted to look weak in front of his mates. He had suppressed the pain in order to carry on working. He had suppressed the pain by tightening up the surrounding muscles and he had been doing that ever since, building up layer upon layer of tension to prevent the old injury from rising to the surface, until his shoulder was so tense that he could hardly move it.

 As we gradually unwound the layers of tension that had accumulated over the years, we eventually uncovered the original injury. At that point he re-experienced the pain of the injury, and simultaneously experienced a vivid memory of the incident – something he hadn’t thought about for almost 30 years - as the tissue memory was released. As that happened, there was a profound release in his shoulder; the tissues softened and his whole shoulder and arm became vastly more mobile. The pain passed fairly quickly and Harry was pleased with the new found mobility in his shoulder and arm. He needed a few more treatments, but soon he was back at work, able to do his job as a carpenter again after years of feeling that he would never work again.

Ralph:

Ralph was 67 years old and had been suffering from a headache for over 10 years - not headaches, but one continuous headache. He was otherwise healthy and there was no apparent cause for this persistent and debilitating pain.

 Naturally, during all these years he had undergone many medical investigations including X-rays, scans and everything else. He had tried many different treatments. Nothing was relieving his headache, nothing was touching it at all. He had been asked many times to go through his whole history and he couldn’t identify anything that might have caused or contributed towards his headache.

 When I tuned it at his head, there was an evident pattern drawing his head and neck down into his body and twisting to the right. As the fascia of his neck started to unwind, I allowed this pull to develop; it drew down very strongly; it was very forceful, an exceptionally strong pull drawing deeper and deeper down into the right side of the body. I followed into that pull as far as it wanted to go, which was very deep and very intense over several minutes – checking with Ralph that he was comfortable despite the apparent intensity of the compression. Finally, we reached a point of release at which the whole neck and head suddenly freed up, unwound and let go. Exactly at that moment, Ralph suddenly exclaimed “Of course I was blown up in the war!”.

 As we reached the fulcrum of his fascial pattern, he had suddenly experienced a vivid memory. Thrown by a nearby bomb, he had been blown right up into the air, crashing down on his head. This was during the Second World War, when he was 19. The headache had started when he was in his 50s. No wonder he hadn’t identified any correlation – until now. The vivid memory, just at the point of stillness within that compressive pattern clearly demonstrated the relationship; and this was confirmed by the dramatic release in the tissues of his head, neck and shoulder and the immediate improvement in his headache, which was substantially eased by the first treatment and gone within a few further treatments, for the first time in over ten years.

Deirdre:

Deirdre had broken her arm two years earlier. The fracture had healed, but she had been left with persistent pain in the forearm and wrist. This was particularly evident whenever she tried to write, at which point the pain would increase rapidly and spread up through her arm into her shoulder, neck and upper back, leaving her feeling tense, uncomfortable and unable to think clearly. She tried to avoid writing, but this was obviously very difficult within the demands of everyday life. She had received various treatments, including Cranio-Sacral Therapy addressing the core but not including Fascial Unwinding. Nothing had helped.

 As her arm started to unwind, it performed the usual dance, finding its way to the position in which it had been injured. As it reached that point of stillness, Deirdre felt a powerful surge of energy, like a powerful wave surging through the very core of her body and every part of her body; she began to feel very hot; she became very conscious of her diaphragm and started breathing very forcefully; her whole body started to pull into a twisted contorted position, shaking visibly.

 The Fascial Unwinding process had connected with the shock imposed at the time of the original injury and held into her system ever since. As the trauma released, everything settled down. Deirdre felt weak and shaky and warm for a while, but she also felt very loose and felt a huge sense of relief. The quality of her whole body had changed, her face had changed; she felt relaxed and comfortable. The pain in her arm gradually disappeared over the next few days and she was able to write again without any discomfort.

Louise:

Louise was a medical secretary and she suffered from a variety of symptoms. She had lower back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, headaches. When the back pain became uncomfortable it affected her digestion and her neck and shoulders became tight. None of her symptoms were severe, but they were a constant discomfort and, most frustratingly, they had been troubling her for many years. She had received regular Osteopathic treatment for years and substantial Cranial Osteopathy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. This treatment usually made her feel better temporarily, but the symptoms would always return.

When I tuned in to her system, I was immediately drawn to her right ankle. Restrictions in her ankle were exerting fascial pulls that were drawing her pelvis out of alignment, creating a series of imbalances up through her spine, leading to strain and pain at various points, mostly involving the standard mechanical pivots in the spine and especially affecting the Thoraco-Lumbar junction (T12/L1 vertebral level) disturbing her digestion, and the Cervico-Thoracic junction (C7/T1 vertebral level) with repercussions on her neck and shoulders.

She hadn’t mentioned her ankle, so I asked her about it and she replied that she had sprained her ankle about 15 years ago but it was so long ago that she didn’t think it was worth mentioning; and it didn’t trouble her – as long as she didn’t run.......or play sport....... or dance..........or go for long walks, which she used to love to do before her ankle injury. It seemed that her whole life had been changed by this ankle injury, but she had simply got used to the limitations, adapted her life and accepted that she would never be able to do any of these things that she loved doing.

The extensive treatment that she had received brought her body back into alignment and felt better for a while, but it wasn’t addressing the source of the imbalance, so these fascial pulls from the ankle kept re-instating the imbalance along with the various associated symptoms. No one had treated her ankle. No one had done any Fascial Unwinding.

Ten minutes of Fascial Unwinding on her ankle released the restriction. The Fascia was no longer pulling her pelvis out of alignment. Her body could settle into a balanced comfortable state again – and stay there. She felt the difference immediately, throughout her whole body. Louise didn’t need any further treatment, but she came back from time to time for an occasional check up, very pleased at being able to dance again and to resume her treasured long walks and all the other activities that her ankle and body were now able to carry out without any discomfort or adverse repercussions.

George:

George had a persistent pain in his left shoulder and arm, a sharp pain in the front of the shoulder which hit him every time he lifted his arm beyond a certain range. It had been with him for years since an injury while sailing. He had received substantial treatment of various kinds, but the pain persisted and he had become resigned to just living with the pain and the restriction that it imposed on his life. Within the context of overall treatment, as I took up his arm, it was very willing to unwind, but as we reached a certain point, George felt the pain and tightened up, preventing the unwinding process from proceeding. Easing off very slightly to the point where the pain was just barely noticeable, I asked George to take a deep breath and let go. As he did so the pain eased, and the arm moved a little further into its chosen direction. Again the pain arose and George tightened up; again I encouraged George to breathe and let go. Again the pain eased and the unwinding proceeded a little further. By now George was getting the idea; each time as the pain arose, we waited at the edge of the pain, George relaxed into the pain, the pain eased, the tissues softened and the unwinding progressed further. In this way the unwinding process was able to proceed gradually but steadily and George’s arm reached positions it had not encountered in many years - and without any pain. His pain was soon resolved and George commented that this concept of relaxing into the pain using his breathing had undoubtedly been the factor that had enabled the release of his shoulder which had been unresponsive to so many other approaches.

Venue: British College of Osteopathic Medicine, 6 Netherhall Gardens, Finchley Road, London, NW3 5RR

Booking: Please complete the online application form and send payment

Early Bird Fee: £90 each day if fully paid by 12th August 2020 (£100 after that date)

Special Offer: £160 for both days booked in advance by 12th August 2020

Further information: Please contact info@ccst.co.uk or 020 7483 0120

Forthcoming Courses 2017

  • Saturday 1st April 2017

    Introductory Day

  • Saturday 4th April 2017

    Introductory Course (London)

  • July 2018

    One Year Professional Training (Diploma Course)

  • October 2017 - July 2019

    One Year Professional Training (Diploma Course)

  • October 2017 - May 2018

    Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology - Foundation Course 

Forthcoming Courses 2017

  • Saturday 1st April 2017

    Introductory Day

  • Saturday 4th April 2017

    Introductory Course (London)

  • July 2018

    One Year Professional Training (Diploma Course)

  • October 2017 - July 2019

    One Year Professional Training (Diploma Course)

  • October 2017 - May 2018

    Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology - Foundation Course