Practicing with PT Classmates
Ever since we started the musculoskeletal series, we've been taught the many mobility and special tests that we can implement in the clinic to rule in and out pathologic conditions. The catch, as always, is that we practice these techniques on our healthy classmates, so it's hard to get a feel for what a "positive" test would be. For example, how much is too much translation with the Lachman Test? I think we all just used to hope that it would be fairly obvious to determine a positive test if a patient presented with the corresponding condition. Now that we've entered the cervical spine, I'm less than comfortable with "hoping" that I'll be able to recognize when someone is, for example, unstable at AO or AA.
As luck would have it, we recently had a few patients with cervical dysfunction in the clinic. (I'm also lucky that my CI recognizes excellent learning opportunities). Just a few weeks ago, we covered the Sharp-Purser and C2 Spinous Kick Tests. As always, it was impossible to do anything but imagine the positive presentation of these tests when we were practicing in class. To my surprise and relief, it was actually pretty obvious that those two tests were positive for the patient I evaluated. The beauty of being a student is that you can have your CI confirm your findings and suspicions. It marked the first time that I performed a special test in the clinic and got a positive result.
These are the little victories that get you through PT school and keep you excited. While there are still a lot of other tests that I don't have a "feel" for, it was reassuring to be able to recognize dysfunction based on the tests that we spend so much time learning. I'm glad they actually work!