Manual Physical Therapy is any “hands-on” treatment provided by the physical therapist. Treatment may include moving joints in specific directions and at different speeds to regain movement (joint mobilization and manipulation), muscle stretching, passive movements of the affected body part, or having the patient move the body part against the therapist’s resistance to improve muscle activation and timing. Specific soft tissue techniques may also be used to improve the mobility and function of tissue and muscles.
At a glance, there may be a lot of similarity between manual physical therapy and other types of bodywork such as massage, chiropractic, or osteopathic therapies. The key differences are in the assessment process behind the treatment and the integration of manual physical therapy and a patient’s personalized exercise program. Our treatment plans are based upon a careful examination of the patient’s movement patterns, which can include not only restrictions of mobility but also abnormal compensatory movements that are preventing a condition from improving. There is a continuous cycle of assessment, treatment, re-assessment, and further treatment based on the patient’s response to the therapy provided. A person’s response to treatment in many cases provides guidance to both patient and physical therapist about how the condition can be better cared for independently by the patient.