Meet the team2018-10-08T12:42:12+00:00

City to Coast Neurosurgery Team

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital has welcomed brain and spinal neurosurgeon Dr David Johnson and his successful Functional Movement Training Centre, into a dedicated space on level four, as part of his City To Coast Neurosurgery practice.

Dr Johnson describes his approach to medicine and hhealthcareas “foundational”. He sees his role as neurosurgeon and doctor, to guide and educate patients to optimise four primary foundational elements of health that we are all in control of – sound nutrition, proficient movement, effective stress management and quality sleep.

Embracing this philosophy, he has created his one-stop multidisciplinary facility at St Andrew’s where all of these health imperatives are defined for patients, prioritised and addressed by a team of nutritionists, physiotherapists, registered nurse, research assistant, exercise scientist and movement therapist’s.

As the surgeon in the team, Dr Johnson maintains the important clinical aspects of treatment. He sets the optimal road map to follow in sometimes very challenging patients, often biased toward failure due to their prior history of having exhausted all commonly available spine pain treatment methodologies.

“With few exceptions, surgery on the spine is only indicated, if it will enhance the patient’s capacity to improve their ‘Movement’ foundational pillar,” Dr Johnson said.

“In patients with spine pain, there is almost always the presence of movement dysfunction.”

“The vast majority of patients with back pain do not require surgery, but nearly all of them require correction of motor patterns manifesting as movement dysfunction.”

Dr Johnson utilises the Functional Movement Training Centre’s NeuroHAB program for this common problem. NeuroHAB has a distinctive and unique focus on central nervous system (CNS) motor patterns. When you conceptualise that back pain symptoms are in fact a CNS movement disorder, this approach makes total sense, he said.

“I developed this approach after appreciating that global peer reviewed literature is increasingly acknowledging the failings of existing treatment to manage the growing economic and clinical burden of back pain symptoms.”

His team have adopted the “Movement” approach with all his patients since inception of Functional Movement Therapy and NeuroHAB in 2011. “Our research and outcomes are extremely satisfying and drive us to reach more patients with spine pain symptoms.”

Dr Johnson says, the earlier we correct movement dysfunction the quicker we can eliminate relapsing, remitting or chronic symptoms and prevent non-surgical symptomatic degeneration transforming into surgical problems.

“This is the natural history if patients are on the roundabout of futile therapy for too long, or “Failed Rehab Syndrome” – a term I coined that is real but rarely acknowledged, in contrast to the commonly used term “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome” which approaches a rate of 50 per cent.”

“I think this very high failure rate is actually a reflection of failed rehabilitation rather than failed surgery and we are conducting further research to clarify this theory”.

One of the most satisfying parts of Dr Johnson’s job is seeing patients transform over the period of the NeuroHAB program, from someone with extremely poor movement proficiency, pain and functional capacity into someone moving virtuously with significant reduction in pain and re-acquisition of amazing functional capacity. He describes Functional Capacity as the ultimate metric of health.

The Functional Movement Training Centre has a philosophy to re-establish and practice proficient skills of movement in all activities of daily living.

The service is located at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital (Brisbane) with other satellite centres located in Maroochydore, Caloundra, Toowoomba and Mackay.

The NeuroHAB program runs for 6-8 weeks, after an initial clinical spinal assessment by Dr Johnson. It then comprises two, one-hour sessions each week. Once patients have completed the NeuroHAB program they can progress to the NeuroFIT program to further increase functional capacity.

Multidisciplinary group consultations are conducted monthly with Dr Johnson, NeuroHAB Movement Physiotherapist’s and Musculoskeletal Physician, Dr Mark Craig for education and assessment of suitability for entry into the NeuroHAB program.

He also conducts surgery at St Andrew’s, with his expertise covering a wide range of brain and spinal neurosurgery, including complex spine surgery, keyhole sacro-iliac stabilisation and minimally invasive approaches, neuro-oncology, acute cerebrovascular surgery, brain and spine trauma, trigeminal neuralgia, CSF diversion surgery and pain neuro-stimulation surgery of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

Meet The Team

Joanne Johnson

Joanne is a Registered Nurse and also holds a degree in Exercise and Sport Science. As Co Director of the Functional Movement Training Centre, she is responsible for referral management, coordinating programs throughout Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Brisbane and is actively involved as a Senior Movement Therapist throughout all programs run through St Andrew’s Hospital, Brisbane. Prior to this, Joanne has been the Practice Nurse for City to Coast Neurosurgery since 2007.

Joanne is passionate about health and holds a special interest in chronic pain. She believes the combination of Group Psychology and Movement Therapy create the perfect recipe for success in the NeuroHAB program.

Georgia Hardy-Hesson

Georgia is a Senior Functional Movement Therapist at the Functional Movement Training Centre. She is responsible for leading NeuroHAB Programs at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital. Georgia’s passion for health and fitness, coupled with her 6 years experience in the Fitness Industry has nurtured a special interest in working with patients with pain and mobility issues.

Georgia strives to empower patients with knowledge, skills and support to assist them throughout their time in the NeuroHAB Program and beyond.

Georgia is a high level athlete herself, achieving accolades in Cross Fit competitions throughout South East Queensland.

Luke Armstrong

Luke Armstrong is a Functional Movement Training Centre NeuroHAB Certified Therapist who assists patients with both neck and back pain by helping them re-acquire movement proficiency.

He believes that “movement is medicine” and through educating and motivating patients they can overcome chronic pain that occurs as a consequence of poor motor patterns and movement dysfunction.

His background in strength, conditioning and Olympic weightlifting allows Luke to provide expert technique analysis.
Furthermore, adding to his current qualifications, Luke is also studying a Diploma of Exercise and Sports Science.
Prior to his current position as a Functional Movement Therapist Luke served in the Royal Australian Airforce.

Sam Wells

Sam Wells is a CrossFit L1 Trainer and Functional Movement Therapist. Sam’s passion for health and fitness stems from years as an athlete competing at a national level in athletics and soccer. Sam’s experience with CrossFit over the last 3 years has assisted him in the rehabilitation of his own back injury and has nurtured his passion for teaching the young and elderly, unwell and healthy athletes the importance of moving well in the sport of life.

Kate Suna

Kate discovered Functional Training in 2007 where she quickly fell in love with it as a healthy lifestyle activity rather than as exercise. Her passion as an athlete quickly turned into passion for Coaching and she became a Certified Functional Fitness Trainer in 2009.  She is now a ANSI Certified Level 2 CrossFit Trainer, and holds various other qualifications within the fitness/strength & conditioning fields.  She comes to us with a wealth of experience and knowledge from her years of hands-on experience.  Kate has previously been a competitive Athlete however, today she enjoys striving toward her own virtuous movement proficiency and improving the movement skills of her chronic pain patients.  Kate had a neck injury and surgery 5 years ago, and rehabilitated herself through her own movement training which gives her an even more intimate understanding of patients with spine related pain.  Kate has witnesses countless people transform with improved confidence, functional capacity and over time reduce or eliminate chronic musculoskeletal pain symptoms by simply focusing on moving their bodies better in life.

Anthony Power

Anthony Power is a Registered Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society of Australia.

Anthony believes that as practitioners-we need to ‘walk the talk’ and he loves cooking, tasting, growing and talking about food (and eating it of course) as well as exercising.

He is also a reformed ‘carb-addict’ and chubby kid and has taken the tough journey from insulin resistance to good health.

Anthony believes that if we get back to eating and cooking real food (not out a packet) this will solve many health issues (and then he will be happily out of a job and he can spend more time with his wife Fiona, boy James, their dog Rosie and various chooks, still un-named).

His firm belief is that coupling exercise and eating real food is a match made in heaven (and earth) in terms of improved health.

Anthony is very experienced in helping those patients with multiple health concerns and is very good as prioritising treatment options.

Anthony’s strength is that he spends quality time with his patients.

When not working, Anthony can be found at the gym, reading, listening to music, riding his bike, drinking coffee (all this either alone or with the family)

City to Coast Neurosurgery Team

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital has welcomed brain and spinal neurosurgeon Dr David Johnson and his successful Functional Movement Training Centre, into a dedicated space on level four, as part of his City To Coast Neurosurgery practice.

Dr Johnson describes his approach to medicine and hhealthcareas “foundational”. He sees his role as neurosurgeon and doctor, to guide and educate patients to optimise four primary foundational elements of health that we are all in control of - sound nutrition, proficient movement, effective stress management and quality sleep.

Embracing this philosophy, he has created his one-stop multidisciplinary facility at St Andrew’s where all of these health imperatives are defined for patients, prioritised and addressed by a team of nutritionists, physiotherapists, registered nurse, research assistant, exercise scientist and movement therapist’s.

As the surgeon in the team, Dr Johnson maintains the important clinical aspects of treatment. He sets the optimal road map to follow in sometimes very challenging patients, often biased toward failure due to their prior history of having exhausted all commonly available spine pain treatment methodologies.

“With few exceptions, surgery on the spine is only indicated, if it will enhance the patient’s capacity to improve their ‘Movement’ foundational pillar,” Dr Johnson said.

“In patients with spine pain, there is almost always the presence of movement dysfunction.”

“The vast majority of patients with back pain do not require surgery, but nearly all of them require correction of motor patterns manifesting as movement dysfunction.”

Dr Johnson utilises the Functional Movement Training Centre’s NeuroHAB program for this common problem. NeuroHAB has a distinctive and unique focus on central nervous system (CNS) motor patterns. When you conceptualise that back pain symptoms are in fact a CNS movement disorder, this approach makes total sense, he said.

“I developed this approach after appreciating that global peer reviewed literature is increasingly acknowledging the failings of existing treatment to manage the growing economic and clinical burden of back pain symptoms.”

His team have adopted the “Movement” approach with all his patients since inception of Functional Movement Therapy and NeuroHAB in 2011. “Our research and outcomes are extremely satisfying and drive us to reach more patients with spine pain symptoms.”

Dr Johnson says, the earlier we correct movement dysfunction the quicker we can eliminate relapsing, remitting or chronic symptoms and prevent non-surgical symptomatic degeneration transforming into surgical problems.

“This is the natural history if patients are on the roundabout of futile therapy for too long, or “Failed Rehab Syndrome” - a term I coined that is real but rarely acknowledged, in contrast to the commonly used term “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome” which approaches a rate of 50 per cent.”

“I think this very high failure rate is actually a reflection of failed rehabilitation rather than failed surgery and we are conducting further research to clarify this theory”.

One of the most satisfying parts of Dr Johnson’s job is seeing patients transform over the period of the NeuroHAB program, from someone with extremely poor movement proficiency, pain and functional capacity into someone moving virtuously with significant reduction in pain and re-acquisition of amazing functional capacity. He describes Functional Capacity as the ultimate metric of health.

The Functional Movement Training Centre has a philosophy to re-establish and practice proficient skills of movement in all activities of daily living.

The service is located at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital (Brisbane) with other satellite centres located in Maroochydore, Caloundra, Toowoomba and Mackay.

The NeuroHAB program runs for 6-8 weeks, after an initial clinical spinal assessment by Dr Johnson. It then comprises two, one-hour sessions each week. Once patients have completed the NeuroHAB program they can progress to the NeuroFIT program to further increase functional capacity.

Multidisciplinary group consultations are conducted monthly with Dr Johnson, NeuroHAB Movement Physiotherapist’s and Musculoskeletal Physician, Dr Mark Craig for education and assessment of suitability for entry into the NeuroHAB program.

He also conducts surgery at St Andrew’s, with his expertise covering a wide range of brain and spinal neurosurgery, including complex spine surgery, keyhole sacro-iliac stabilisation and minimally invasive approaches, neuro-oncology, acute cerebrovascular surgery, brain and spine trauma, trigeminal neuralgia, CSF diversion surgery and pain neuro-stimulation surgery of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

Meet The Team

Joanne Johnson

Joanne is a Registered Nurse and also holds a degree in Exercise and Sport Science. As Co Director of the Functional Movement Training Centre, she is responsible for referral management, coordinating programs throughout Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Brisbane and is actively involved as a Senior Movement Therapist throughout all programs run through St Andrew’s Hospital, Brisbane. Prior to this, Joanne has been the Practice Nurse for City to Coast Neurosurgery since 2007.

Joanne is passionate about health and holds a special interest in chronic pain. She believes the combination of Group Psychology and Movement Therapy create the perfect recipe for success in the NeuroHAB program.

Georgia Hardy-Hesson

Georgia is a Senior Functional Movement Therapist at the Functional Movement Training Centre. She is responsible for leading NeuroHAB Programs at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital. Georgia’s passion for health and fitness, coupled with her 6 years experience in the Fitness Industry has nurtured a special interest in working with patients with pain and mobility issues.

Georgia strives to empower patients with knowledge, skills and support to assist them throughout their time in the NeuroHAB Program and beyond.

Georgia is a high level athlete herself, achieving accolades in Cross Fit competitions throughout South East Queensland.

Luke Armstrong

Luke Armstrong is a Functional Movement Training Centre NeuroHAB Certified Therapist who assists patients with both neck and back pain by helping them re-acquire movement proficiency.

He believes that “movement is medicine” and through educating and motivating patients they can overcome chronic pain that occurs as a consequence of poor motor patterns and movement dysfunction.

His background in strength, conditioning and Olympic weightlifting allows Luke to provide expert technique analysis.
Furthermore, adding to his current qualifications, Luke is also studying a Diploma of Exercise and Sports Science.
Prior to his current position as a Functional Movement Therapist Luke served in the Royal Australian Airforce.

Sam Wells

Sam Wells is a CrossFit L1 Trainer and Functional Movement Therapist. Sam’s passion for health and fitness stems from years as an athlete competing at a national level in athletics and soccer. Sam’s experience with CrossFit over the last 3 years has assisted him in the rehabilitation of his own back injury and has nurtured his passion for teaching the young and elderly, unwell and healthy athletes the importance of moving well in the sport of life.

Kate Suna

Kate discovered Functional Training in 2007 where she quickly fell in love with it as a healthy lifestyle activity rather than as exercise. Her passion as an athlete quickly turned into passion for Coaching and she became a Certified Functional Fitness Trainer in 2009.  She is now a ANSI Certified Level 2 CrossFit Trainer, and holds various other qualifications within the fitness/strength & conditioning fields.  She comes to us with a wealth of experience and knowledge from her years of hands-on experience.  Kate has previously been a competitive Athlete however, today she enjoys striving toward her own virtuous movement proficiency and improving the movement skills of her chronic pain patients.  Kate had a neck injury and surgery 5 years ago, and rehabilitated herself through her own movement training which gives her an even more intimate understanding of patients with spine related pain.  Kate has witnesses countless people transform with improved confidence, functional capacity and over time reduce or eliminate chronic musculoskeletal pain symptoms by simply focusing on moving their bodies better in life.

Anthony Power

Anthony Power is a Registered Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society of Australia.

Anthony believes that as practitioners-we need to ‘walk the talk’ and he loves cooking, tasting, growing and talking about food (and eating it of course) as well as exercising.

He is also a reformed ‘carb-addict’ and chubby kid and has taken the tough journey from insulin resistance to good health.

Anthony believes that if we get back to eating and cooking real food (not out a packet) this will solve many health issues (and then he will be happily out of a job and he can spend more time with his wife Fiona, boy James, their dog Rosie and various chooks, still un-named).

His firm belief is that coupling exercise and eating real food is a match made in heaven (and earth) in terms of improved health.

Anthony is very experienced in helping those patients with multiple health concerns and is very good as prioritising treatment options.

Anthony’s strength is that he spends quality time with his patients.

When not working, Anthony can be found at the gym, reading, listening to music, riding his bike, drinking coffee (all this either alone or with the family)