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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
From New York to Wales - and back
Bethan Humphreys-Riley
Bethan gets down to work on another painful back
Some of us know what it is like to have back pain - but would you fly thousands of miles across the Atlantic for treatment?

American Hilda DuChene has done just that and made three visits to Machynlleth, since injuring herself while lifting luggage at a wedding in Wales.

Unable to stand without pain, she sought help from chiropractor Bethan Humphreys-Riley.

That was three years ago and Mrs DuChene, of Syracuse, New York State, has been returning ever since, combining it with visits to relatives.

"Bethan's treatment was a miracle," said the 72-year-old, who has been visiting her cousin Vera Griffiths, in Tywyn, Gwynedd.

"It was so good that I didn't have to see a chiropractor at home for nine months.

"I have had back problems for about 40 years and have been seeing chiropractors sometimes up to three times a month, but Bethan's treatment is the best. It's just a shame that there isn't anything like it at home."

Coming to Wales is like a fix
Hilda DuChene

Mrs Humphreys-Riley, who runs Century 21 Backcare clinics in Machynlleth, Aberystwyth and Bristol, is the first chiropractor in the world to use the Power Assisted Mobilisation technique, involving a bionic hand.

PAM's four pistons, driven by compressed air, massages each vertebra and stimulates spinal reflexes to mobilise and realign the spine.

The bionic fingers are touch-sensitive and can apply more pressure and penetrate deeper than real fingers because of their strength and speed.

Claire Taylor, the wife of the equipment's inventor, Robert Taylor, who is currently in Florida, confirmed that the Machynlleth clinic was the first to use PAM.

"Coming to Wales is like a fix," added Mrs DuChene.

"I have had two treatments this time and I feel like a new person. I feel 100% better, I can walk straight, turn my head from side to side without pain and get up in the morning without feeling stiff.


Mrs Humphreys-Riley said she had noticed an improvement in her US patient between her two treatments this time.

"The treatment has literally changed people's lives. I have had patients who were registered disabled before the treatment and they have now come back to life," she added.

Another client is rally champion David Higgins, from Newtown.

A serious neck injury in 1995 followed by a major crash in the Welsh Rally in 2003, which damaged the base of his spine, left him in constant pain and unable to focus on his driving.

"I went there not knowing how bad my back actually was," said Mr Higgins, 30, who has won the American Rally Championship for the Mitsubishi team since his treatment.

"I had about five sessions with Bethan and it wasn't until I was starting to make a good recovery that she revealed how serious it was."

After improving his posture, Mr Higgins now stands 1.5 inches taller than before the treatment.

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