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PTA Blog Talk

Joint Mobilization

Published July 18, 2012 3:50 PM by Jason Marketti

"Spinal manipulation is not designated as being under the exclusive domain of any one specific profession or group of practitioners." So says the APTA; however, the position they take with the PT assistants is that we should not be allowed to perform joint mobilization (any grades).

So effectively, the APTA is saying the PTA is not a group of practitioners nor are we a specific profession able to perform this procedure. I am glad I do not belong to the APTA because it would sincerely limit what I could do as a PT assistant. And since I follow state rules and regulations that better govern my profession as a PTA, I am able to perform treatments that otherwise the national organization would disallow.

Over the years, I have spoken with many PTs who would train me in techniques that would be beneficial for the patient. And if those techniques conflict with the APTA's position but do not conflict with state laws, I would be trained in them. Isn't getting the patient better our whole purpose? Besides, the PTA is obligated first to follow state laws (under the direction of the PT) in order to continue therapy on a patient. If state law is silent about a procedure the PTA can perform and the PT has no objection or has trained the assistant, the technique is legal.

Every time I have patients do a short arc quad after knee surgery, they are mobilizing that joint. What happens when I have the patient in knee extension and apply pressure to the joint - am I mobilizing it? And if I have a patient transfer via log roll from supine to sit to stand, that patient has mobilized multiple joints in the body (including the spine) that I may not be allowed to do according to the APTA. What would happen if I was walking next to a patient and when he turned, there was a "pop" sound coming from his low back? Would I be in trouble from the APTA and state licensing agencies for accidental manipulation even though I never touched the patient?

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About this Blog


    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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