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Selective Functional Movement Assessments


We make a point to schedule an appointment for a physical, eye exam, and two dental exams every year, but why don’t we take the time to get a physical therapy check-up? Why wait until we have an injury to go see our Physical Therapist or Physical Therapist Assistant? With Selective Functional Movement Assessments (SFMA), a PT or PTA can identify and target movement patterns that may lead to future injury.

In brief, the body consists of alternating stable and mobile joints. For example, the ankle is mobile, the knee is stable, the hip is mobile, etc. When a mobile joint becomes less mobile through trauma or overuse, it increases the stress on a stable joint, and vice versa. This change in mobility is labeled as a dysfunction. Dysfunctions are divided into two categories consisting of “Stability-Motor Control Dysfunction” (our muscles are not firing correctly, or are too weak), and “Joint Mobility Dysfunction, Tissue Extensibility Dysfunction”, which means our joints are not mobile enough, or our muscles are too tight. A dysfunction is not permanent but can cause a change in body mechanics as well as an increase in joint stress. Using SFMA screenings, a clinician can assess movement patterns and identify a movement dysfunction that may be leading to pain or future injury.

An SFMA screening is a quick assessment consisting of tests to assess movement quality and quantity of joint. Within a few minutes, a clinician can perform a first-tier screen and locate a region of dysfunction. From there, more specific movement screens, called “breakouts” can be performed to identify the actual location and potential cause of the dysfunction. Once a clinician has identified the region and the potential cause of the pain, exercises and/or treatment can be given to reduce pain and prevent future injury.

Clinicians throughout the medical field include prevention as a main foundation within the practice. An SFMA screening is a tool that can be used to identify and prevent possible future injury. As a society, we do not wait until we have a toothache to visit our dentist. So why should we wait until we are in pain to take care of our bodies?

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