A personal thank-you to Brian Mulligan

Mentor, Friend and Inventor of “Mobilisation With Movement”

San Francisco 2015. Teaching pelvis course with Brian

With Brian and Dawn Mulligan

Brian Mulligan is the originator of the Mulligan Concept and "mobilisation with movement" (MWM). Without his intellect, insight, and enthusiasm, a new era of physiotherapy treatment integrating elements of manual therapy, functional exercise, and cognitive therapy may have never seen the light of day. 

Brian is listed as one of "the seven most influential persons in orthopedic physical therapy today" by the American Physical Therapy Association. Mulligan Concept continuing education courses are among the most popular for physiotherapists and manual therapy clinicians worldwide. Brian has received many accolades, including the "Geoffrey Maitland Award for the advancement of clinical practice in Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapy" awarded by the International Federation of Manual Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) in 2016. In 2022, Brian was acknowledged for his services to physiotherapy in the New Zealand National Queens Birthday Honors list and made an “Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit” (ONZM). Detailed information about Brian is on the MCTA website (https://bmulligan.com/founder-and-history/) and in the textbooks: 

Vicenzino B, Hing W, Rivett D & Hall T. Mobilisation with Movement: The Art and Science. Elsevier Publishing; 2011, p2-5.

Hing W, Hall T, Mulligan B. Introduction. In: Hing W, Hall T & Mulligan B, editors. The Mulligan Concept of Manual Therapy: textbook of techniques. Elsevier Publishing; 2020, p1-2. 

I am incredibly fortunate to have received training from Brian before and after the "eureka moment" when he created the first MWM. My first coaching from Brian was in the NZMTA postgraduate Diploma in Manipulative Therapy program in 1981. I completed the certification in 1983 and was encouraged by Brian Mulligan, Mark Laslett, and Professor Lance Twomey to consider pursuing a research degree in Western Australia. I completed a Graduate Diploma in Manipulative Therapy and a Master of Applied Science degree at Curtin University and was a lecturer in the undergraduate and postgraduate programs. 

The head of physiotherapy (Professor Lance Twomey) and the head of the post-graduate manual therapy program (Bob Elvey) regarded Brian's contribution to physiotherapy very highly.  I suggested they invite Brian as a visiting fellow to participate in the university’s post-graduate manual therapy and sports physiotherapy programs. In 1990 Brian generously participated in the postgraduate manual therapy and sports physiotherapy programs. Three students (Toby Hall, Sarah Counsell, Linda Exelby) and two lecturers (Kim Robinson and myself) from that year ultimately became accredited Mulligan Concept teachers. 

At the time, several cadaveric spinal anatomical studies (including my own) were taking place at Curtin, and Brian appreciated being able to participate in the laboratory investigations.  

I have had many opportunities to work with Brian worldwide, and until the Covid-19 pandemic, I regularly visited Brian and Dawn in New Zealand. They are always wonderfully hospitable, and I value their company and counsel. On each visit, Brian shared his latest thoughts and ideas. He was also hugely supportive as I developed a new approach to examining and treating pelvic dysfunction based on his MWM principles. 

I have been able to present pelvis courses in the USA since 2003 due to the influence of Brian and the organizational skills of my MCTA colleagues and friends Julie Paolino, Brian Folk, and Frank Gargano. In 2014, Bobby Rosetti, the CEO of North East Seminars, suggested that Brian and I co-present a series of pelvis courses in the USA. Brian readily agreed, and the highlight of my working life was presenting pelvis courses with him in 2015 and 2016. Our MCTA colleagues in the USA (Julie Paolino, Brian Folk, Don Reordan, Rick Crowell, Pat Black, David Mikos, Amy Bennett, Shelley Quirk, Eric Dinkins, and Mark Thompson) assisted on these courses. Lynn Reordan, who is an outstanding physical therapist, also assisted. I am incredibly grateful for their enthusiasm, input, and expertise. It was great fun!

Honestly, if I had not been exposed to Brian as a mentor and had the opportunity to "stand on the shoulder of a giant" (paraphrase Chen 2003), I would have left the profession in frustration many years ago. 

Thank you, Brian Mulligan!

Chen C. (2003) On the Shoulders of Giants. In: Mapping Scientific Frontiers: The Quest for Knowledge Visualization. Springer, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4471-0051-5_5

Boston USA 2015 with Brian Mulligan and Brian Folk

Under the watchful eye!

Portland 2015. Lots of fun as always

Presenting pelvis courses with Brian in the USA 2015. 

We had large groups for all courses, and because there is a significant clinical component in each course, up to six MCTA teachers assisted with the clinical practice components. 

San Francisco 2015. Try sitting on the floor like this when you get to your mid-eighties! These courses are great fun but challenging work and tiring with lots of travel. Brian was full of energy and set a pace that we sometimes struggled to keep up with. 

San Francisco 2015. Lynn Reordan, Don Reordan, Rick Crowell, Julie Paolino