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Need-to-Know Manual Therapy Certifications for Physical Therapists

November 17th, 2015 in  Allied Health
by Dustin Passigli

It's been 3 months since I began working as a full-fledged physical therapist in an outpatient setting. School has given me the tools and knowledge to treat the very most basic of conditions. After doing research of my own, I'm truly amazed at how much there still is to learn, as well as the numerous treatment styles that presently exist. Learning the basics of every setting of physical therapy is essential to a well-rounded and expert physical therapist, but there are some who would like to delve deeper into specific bodies of knowledge in the PT world. This is especially apparent in new grads that are teeming with delight as to the many areas and settings in which they can work, such as women’s health, outpatient orthopedic, inpatient, SNF, and home health.

I've had many conversations with my classmates and others who keep asking themselves, 'What’s next? Does my education stop here?'

Some figure they've had enough of school and they'll continue on their path taking the bare minimum of continuing education classes. But I feel, and many of my close classmates would agree, that our education as physical therapists doesn’t stop once we graduate.

It behooves us to continue aspiring to gain expertise through continuing education courses, teaching others, and committing to community awareness.

Stepping off my soap box, I feel it's important, in an age of evidence based practice, to discuss one area of orthopedic practice that has taken a place in the spotlight, manual therapy.

The use of manual therapy, or manipulative therapy, is nothing really novel. It has roots back to ancient Greece and 400 BCE Europe (Pettman, 2007). In the modern era, physical therapists have been able to provide strong contributions to the field, thereby solidifying the profession's claim to have manipulative therapy within its legally regulated scope of practice (Pettman, 2007). This has led to the introduction of various philosophies and approaches to manual therapy, whether coming from the osteopathic, chiropractic, or allopathic professions. The various philosophies are especially apparent in our own profession of physical therapy.

As new physical therapists, deciding which approach is the most effective can be challenging. Which approach can you believe in, and should you pursue specializations? The goal of this article is to provide a breadth of knowledge of all the modern coursework and certification options for a manual therapist.