Our Team

Roger O'Toole

Director and Senior Consultant
Roger Otoole

Roger O'Toole graduated with first class honours as a physiotherapist in 2002, and soon thereafter developed an interest in chronic conditions, completing post graduate training in advanced physiology and chronic pain management. Since 2004, Roger has focused his interest in chronic conditions into headache and migraine treatment and management. This interest has involved taking on further study including completion of the level I foundation seminar and level II advanced seminar presented by the Watson Headache® Institute. In 2013 Roger was among the first group of therapists to be a Watson Headache®  Certified Practitioner.

Roger has now acquired a unique and highly specific skill set which has culminated in the opening of the first headache and migraine treatment centre dedicated to using the Watson Headache® Approach (apart from Dean Watson's clinic in Adelaide). The Melbourne Headache Centre provides access to cutting edge manual therapy techniques, modified from traditional physiotherapy techniques, and renowned for its diagnostic accuracy and success rate in suitable clients. The clinic has now provided relief to thousands of sufferers with people travelling from every state and territory in Australia, as well as Hong Kong, New Zealand, Thailand, the United Kingdom and USA to access treatment, and inspired a host of copycat 'Melbourne Headache' clinics.

Having consulted for over 6000 hours with over 1400 clients, Roger is one of the most experienced practitioners in Australia in using the Watson Headache® Approach. ​Roger's unique skill set and experience have seen him sought out by other therapists with an interest in headache and migraine. This sees Roger hosting clinicians from around Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, in his clinic to help them better understand the role of the neck in headache and migraine, with the hope that the Watson Headache® Approach will continue to broaden its reach.

By invitation, Roger has assisted Dean Watson on the Watson Headache® Institute Level 1 foundation course, and in 2016 was invited to the Inaugural Headache Symposium in Sydney to present a workshop on running a Headache Clinic, and to deliver the closing remarks.

Having rediscovered his passion for research in the last few years through collaboration with the University of South Australia, Roger is self-professed to be in 'pre-PhD' mode, and actively seeking collaborations with experts and researchers within related areas. The product of this to date has been presentations at international symposia in 2020 and 2021 (see below).

This has presented opportunities to become involved in research involving concussion, and post-concussion syndrome, and furthering his research interest in vestibular migraine and nausea and vomiting syndromes. Roger is extremely excited about the near future for headache and migraine sufferers, and he continues to advocate for them with regular information sessions being run in healthcare clinics.

Outside of work Roger's focus is on his first passion - his two children, being involved in their schooling as a volunteer helper and also coaching their basketball teams for the past 5 years, rekindling his own childhood passion. Through the community art project 'Those Who Rock' in 2019 Roger has also rediscovered his love of music, regularly learning new ways to butcher classics on his guitar.

Presentations at International Symposia

Roger O'Toole from the Melbourne Headache Centre presenting on treating cyclic vomiting syndrome at Watson Headache Institute Inaugural International Symposium - Turning Primary Headache Upside Down 2020 - Online

Roger, probably the most internationally experienced manual therapist managing patients with CVS, will present the neurophysiological evidence for the role of cervical afferents, and the role of manual cervical intervention in the (successful) management of those afflicted by this syndrome.

Dr Dean Watson, founder of the Watson Headache® Approach

Roger O'Toole presenting on Vestibular Migraine at the Watson Headache Institute 2nd International Symposium 2021 Online2nd International Symposium

Who is better than Roger, O'Toole, having managed many patients with vestibular migraine, to present neurophysiological evidence of the role of cervical afferents and its manual treatment in the (successful) management of those affected by this syndrome? Thank you for another paradigm-changing presentation, Roger. One not to be missed. Cheers Dean

Dr Dean Watson - founder of the Watson Headache® Approach

Zoe Denton

Level 3 Headache Consultant
Zoe Denton

Zoe graduated from The University of the West of England in 2008 with a first class honours degree in Physiotherapy. She began her career working within the National Health Service (NHS) completing hospital based rotations in the core areas of physiotherapy including Paediatrics, Stroke Rehabilitation, Intensive Care and Orthopaedics in the East of England. In 2012 she moved to London to work in a hospital based senior Musculoskeletal role treating a wide range of conditions including sports and spinal injuries. At this time, Zoe worked extensively in Chronic Pain management.

 

Zoe relocated to Australia in 2015 and first met Dean Watson whilst completing her Certificate in Orthopaedic Manual Therapy at Curtin University where he taught as part of the course. Since then Zoe has completed her Watson Level 1, 2 and 3 training, gaining certification in August 2017, and she has been working at the Melbourne Headache Centre since November 2016.

 

Alongside treating headache and migraine Zoe has a keen interest in neck pain, and has undertaken training with leading Physiotherapists in the field including; Toby Hall, Gwendoline Jull, Michelle Stirling, Trish Wisby-Roth, Shaun O’Leary and Peter Selvaratnam. Her strong knowledge base in this area is a great compliment to her work in treating headache and migraine. Zoe is also a certified Pilates instructor with the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute (APPI).

 

Zoe is very passionate about her work, and with a life-long love of learning, she is currently completing her Masters in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at La Trobe University, aiming to complete this in 2020. When she is not hitting the books, Zoe loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking, surfing, running and Yoga.

 

Why work in headache and migraines?

 

"My mum suffered from migraines for a long-time, and growing up I saw the major impact this had on her life. I think because of this I always had a personal interest in head pain management because when I was younger, I wished there was something I could do for mum. I had heard about Dean’s work whilst working in London, and when I met him and learned about the Watson Headache Approach it completely revolutionised my treatment of head pain. I immediately started to see excellent results and my whole approach to treating head pain changed."

 

What to expect with treatment?

 

Zoe has a calm and considered approach, and her warm nature quickly puts people at ease. Zoe believes patient education and understanding is the foundation for all other treatment, and because of this, she will talk you step-by-step through the assessment and treatment process. She also has a wealth of knowledge relating to the evidence base around the treatment of headaches and neck disorders, as this is of particular interest to her in completing her Master’s. So be warned, you will probably hear about some of this during your treatment!

Maria Schaffner

Level 2 Headache Consultant
Maria Schaffner

Maria graduated as a physiotherapist in 2008 in Bern, Switzerland and has  since applied her professional skills as a physiotherapist in a range of different setting. Initially beginning as a respiratory physiotherapist at Bern University hospital after two years Maria sought opportunities to develop her musculoskeletal skills. It was whilst working in a rural mountain hospital in Switzerland treating musculoskeletal patients that Maria first came into contact with Dean Watson and the Watson Headache ® Approach.

At this time I undertook post graduate training and it was then I completed the Level 1 foundation course with Watson Headache ® Institute in Zurich, Switzerland under Dean Watsons instruction.  I was fascinated by the gentle approach, but also realised how precise and specific this approach was compared to regular physiotherapy. After completing the course I moved back to Bern working in a physiotherapy clinic, but I knew to really master these techniques I would need to have mentoring and to be seeing a lot of headache clients.

After seeing more headache clients in her private practice Maria took the next opportunity she could to learn more and joined Dean Watson for the Level II advanced seminar in 2016 in Den Haag, Netherlands. Seeking mentorship in a dedicated clinic, the Watson Headache ® Institute put Maria in contact with the Melbourne Headache Centre.

In January 2018 Maria flew herself out to Australia for 5 months to learn and observe in the Melbourne Headache Centre with senior clinician Roger O'Toole. Impressed by her passion and aptitude for the techniques and helping sufferers the decision was taken to organise a sponsorship for Maria, who subsequently joined the Melbourne Headache Centre team in August 2019.

Dylan Clifford

Level 2 Headache Consultant
Dylan Clifford

Dylan graduated from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2012. He returned to Melbourne and spent the following seven years developing his physiotherapy skills in a large group private practice.

Dylan’s interest in headaches grew when trying to help his sister in law, a chronic sufferer of daily persistent headache despite a history of failed surgeries, medications, specialists and therapies over many years. Though she had tried numerous physiotherapists, Dylan felt as a physiotherapist that he should be able to help her.

To develop his knowledge and understanding of headache and migraine treatment, Dylan attended the Level 1 Watson Headache Institute Course. He personally saw the life changing effects the Watson Headache Approach could have when his sister in law was assessed and treated by Dean Watson in front of the group. For the first time in years, his sister in law had a significant change in the intensity of her headache, something she had never had before.

Seeing the difference made to her quality of life since then and determined to refine his skills, Dylan focused on learning more about headache and migraine treatment by completing the Level 2 Watson Headache Institute Course. Looking help those who continue to suffer most, Dylan joined Melbourne Headache Centre in 2020.

Kate Coleman

Practice Manager
Kate Coleman

Kate joined the Melbourne Headache Centre team in the middle of 2018.  Whilst developing and managing the day to day operations of the clinic, Kate also spends time consulting with new patients over the phone and booking in treatments.