13 October 2012

How to get started on Twitter

This is not just for osteopaths. I am posting it here because it could be useful to many people, especially the ones who ask me about Twitter. Once you get past the “why bother with it?” question (it’s like networking). And “what is it?” (It’s whatever you want it to be). The next question tends to be “how do I get started?” That is what this post is about.

Twitter Bill Ferguson

First you will need an account. Go to www.twitter.com and set one up. Your twitter name will have an @ sign in front of it and will be unique to you. Unless you have an unusual name you will probably have to be inventive until you find a name you like. Then write your profile. This is what the world will see and should give some idea of your interests: don’t worry about getting it right first time you can always go back and edit it any time.

Next step is to find some people to “follow”. I recommend you start by following a few key personalities in your profession; every business has its gurus and opinion leaders. Use a google search on a few names to find their twitter addresses, and then follow the ones that appeal. Once you get comfortable with using Twitter you might like to see who these gurus follow. Some of them will interest you and you can follow them too (or instead). Often your gurus will re-tweet things that other people have shared, this can be good or bad depending how prolific and relevant the re-tweets are to you. If you need it there is an option to turn off re-tweets from individuals while still getting their original tweets.

Are you ready for your first tweet? Imagine you are in a room full of strangers, you are unlikely to shout “hello everybody” unless you are mildly psychotic. More likely you will listen in to some snippets of conversation until you find something of interest then maybe smile or comment and ease in gently. You can listen (it’s called “lurking”) for as long as you want. There is no pressure to tweet straight away; you will know when the time is right.

There are several ways to use Twitter. Some people use it to advertise their product or business; this can become boring if you are not careful. Imagine if you kept bumping into somebody socially and their sole topic of conversation was their business. Treat Twitter like a networking event. Use your profile description to describe what you do and let your tweets be interesting and engaging, just as if you were having a conversation in a crowded room. Some people like to share their day to day trivia on Twitter. I find this a huge turn-off. I don’t care what you had for breakfast or what time you went to bed or how you are feeling today. Unless you are witty and entertaining, then I might make an exception. Many tweets that are boring and trivial to me might be fascinating to someone else; use your discretion; follow and unfollow until you get the right mix.

I use Twitter mostly to get information so I follow people who post links to things and talk about subjects that might interest me. You can see from my profile what I am interested in and I assume that anyone who follows me shares at least one interest so my tweets tend to be for those followers.

Another way to get information, especially for breaking news or current events is to follow hashtags. A hashtag gathers all the tweets that mention a keyword in one place. For example #Tenterden will show you every tweet that mentions the word Tenterden (providing the sender puts the hashtag in front of the word. For example the tweet “its sunny in #Tenterden today” would be picked up if you searched for #Tenterden. But the tweet “its sunny in Tenterden today” would not be shown. If you want your tweet to be found easily by topic, use a hashtag. But be careful: too many hashtags make you appear desperate for attention.

I hope this brief introduction helps. You can follow me if you want to @billferguson www.twitter.com/billferguson

20 September 2012

Viruses not to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome after all

Contrary to previous findings, new research finds no link between chronic fatigue syndrome and the viruses XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) and pMLV (polytropic murine leukemia virus). “Earlier research that reported patients with chronic fatigue syndrome carried these two viruses was wrong”, said Ian Lipkin of Columbia University.  “There is still no evidence for an infectious cause behind chronic fatigue syndrome. These results refute any correlation between these agents and disease.”

So it’s back to the drawing board. Read the article here “Viruses not to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome after all” http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/09/18/viruses.not.blame.chronic.fatigue.syndrome.after.all

13 July 2012

Osteopaths say - Bye Bye BUPA

After 11 years working together I hate to say this but it is – “Bye Bye BUPA”. Here is a link to a fuller explanation of the changes that BUPA are imposing in their new contract www.save-osteopathy-on-bupa.org and here is my open letter:



BUPA are currently in the process of changing the way they provide for patients consulting many types of healthcare professionals, including OSTEOPATHS.

In the future you, the patient (and policy holder), will no longer be able to see the Osteopath of your choice unless that Osteopath has signed up to the new BUPA OSTEOPATHS NETWORK CONTRACT which includes restrictive terms and conditions, onerous administration/paperwork and capped fees. BUPA are looking to pay osteopaths the same fee country wide, and patients will not be allowed the option of paying to top up any shortfall in session fees.

I find the terms and conditions and fee structure of the proposed new contract untenable and regretfully find myself forced to resign as a BUPA provider UNLESS the proposed contract and fee structure is radically changed. This is only likely to happen if patients and policyholders complain strongly to BUPA.

If you are concerned, as I am, by these plans please complain to BUPA by one or ALL of the following means:

1. Write to:

Dr Natalie-Jane MacDonald
Medical Director
BUPA Health & Wellbeing UK
Willow House
TW18 3DZ

2. Email: customerrelations@bupa.com

3. Phone: 0845 609 0111

If you have a corporate BUPA policy please highlight these issues and complain to your HR manager (other Private Medical Insurance Companies operate a much fairer and better quality system).

9 June 2012

Osteopath eases the pains of business

I made it into print last week "Osteopath Bill Ferguson carries out some acupuncture treatment for the Wealden Business Group"

Bill Ferguson Kentish Express article
Kentish Express article: Osteopath eases the pains of business
19 February 2012

A Sunday walk with benefits

You probably know at least a few of the footpaths and walks and areas of interest near where you live. If you feel like sharing why not add your expertise to the open street map project. Get out on your bike or go for a walk and then add something to the map. It works a bit like Wikipedia, anyone can add or adapt what is already there. Put your local shops, pubs landmarks on the map and benefit from the exercise that you will get by doing on the ground research.

Open Street Map
11 January 2012

First Aid: The modern way to do CPR

The British Heart Foundation have just brought out a new instructional video featuring Vinnie Jones that shows you how to do CPR on someone who is breathing but unconscious. Appropriately doing compressions to the Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive helps reinforce the message and makes sure that the lifesaver keeps to the beat (100/min).

I love the video, it’s modern and the message is sticky. Being slightly cynical I wonder why the advice on CPR seems to change every couple of years, surely it’s not just a way of drumming up business for first aid course providers …



8 December 2011

When we understand consciousness will we understand pain

We still don’t understand exactly what consciousness is made of or where it resides. Lorimer Moseley gives a good summary of some of the latest hypotheses but sadly none of them answer the question definitively. The question is important because if we need consciousness to experience pain, as many believe, then to know more about the process has the potential to unlock treatment modalities to help people who suffer chronic, presently untreatable pain.

Lorimer seems fairly sure that the answer lies in the brain. Maybe he needs to have a chat with John Upledger who proposed the "energy cyst" model several decades ago. In this model trauma is "felt" at a cellular level and sets up a continuous noxious input that requires local reorganisation to contain its effect.

A good review, well worth reading can be found here: http://bodyinmind.org/how-does-the-brain-produce-consciousness

14 November 2011

A spinning class with a difference from Spain

Instead of pounding away to heavy metal or whatever compilation your instructor brings to the class, why not have live music while you spin. Something uplifting and traditional and very Spanish. “Spinning a ritmo de jota” from Zaragoza. Enjoy …

23 October 2011

Dealing with risk - osteopathy risk or scaremongering

I went to an award ceremony earlier this year. It was held in Lanzarote, in a castle, designed by the famous local artist César Manrique and built from blocks of volcanic lava.
The holes formed by escaping gas when the lava was molten are just the right size to trap a high heel. Inside the castle were narrow stairways, steep and spiral often without handrails and generally agreed to be rather dangerous. If this had been England I doubt that we would have been allowed near them but because the danger was obvious everyone took great care and helped each other safely up and down, especially the ladies in high heels.

I thought later about the way we deal with risk in our different cultures. In Spain, if something looks dangerous you take care, in UK we either install so many safety features as to make the experience anodyne or we try to ban it. I wonder how far you can go in trying to make life safe. Imagine how many people would ever play sport if they were warned of the risks.

The winner of the award was Kenneth Gasque who was responsible for bringing the Ironman triathlon to the island. I see that at least 14 people died in triathlons between 2006 – 2008 http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/ExerciseFitness/19422 yet I don’t see any moves to ban triathlons, on the contrary, we applaud the brave athletes (gladiators?) who risk their bodies for glory.

Everything we do in life carries an element of risk, we learn by experience, it’s surely part of the human condition, so where do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable risk. Every time I go to a restaurant I risk food poisoning but I imagine the risk is small (provided I avoid oysters). If someone was to take me aside and give me the annual statistics for E-coli deaths and noraviris I might just decide to stay home and have something out of the freezer and miss out on a pleasurable experience.  Should we train our waiters to deliver such information as soon as the diner sits down? And by analogy should our colleges be training osteopathy students to deliver dire warnings of hypothetical and imaginary risks to already anxious patients?


Castillo stairs
Castillo stairsClose up of Castillo staircase – lava holes, no handrails, steep staircase, lethal
18 October 2011

Tenterden Osteopath says Mind your Head

With all due respect to Chicken Little, the sky is not falling: but things are falling from the sky. Shortly after one of NASA’s satellites falling out of orbit we now hear of a German satellite about to do the same thing. The 2.4 ton satellite has been in orbit for 21 years and is expected to hit the ground (probably in pieces) sometime near the weekend. Officials at the German space agency reckon there is "only" a 1 in 2,000 chance of the debris hitting someone!

I have yet to see a patient suffering from a satellite induced injury, but the way these things are falling out of the sky it must surely just be a matter of time. In the meantime don’t get a crick in the neck trying to spot them.

Satellite debris
Chicken Little


Blog Author

My name is Bill Ferguson and I am an Osteopath and Acupuncturist. I run a private practice in Tenterden, Kent.

Bill Ferguson, Osteopath and Acupuncturist
Bill Ferguson
Osteopathy Clinic
Tel: 01580 762754

I am registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), the regulatory body for osteopathy and I have been helping people in pain for over 20 years.

For further information about my osteopathy practice see my website www.billferguson.co.uk where you will find more information about me.