Evidence-Based Physical Therapy – What You Need to Know

Evidence-Based Physical Therapy


In physical therapy, accuracy, and consistency are of the utmost importance. To be effective, therapists tailor each PT program to the needs of a given patient. Those needs, of course, vary widely. Still, most situations that require PT can be grouped into existing categories with corresponding PT programs. And one of the key ways that many of today’s practices are ensuring consistency and efficacy is by basing therapy on authoritative information.

This is the essence of an evidence-based practice.

What is evidence-based physical therapy?

In many ways, the definition of evidence-based physical therapy is in the name: using the most up-to-date, relevant, and accurate information to design PT. In an evidence-based practice, PTs not only have access to the latest clinical resources but integrates them into the practice itself. This can include:

  • Clinical knowledge, research, and protocols
  • Articles, case studies, and reviews
  • Patient data and demographics

Ultimately, the objective of evidence-based physical therapy is to provide the best available therapy based on the best available evidence. This helps establish baselines for care and prevents treatment variations not based on existing information.

Examples of evidence-based physical therapy

The clinical applications of evidence-based physical therapy are broad. When treating a grade III lateral ankle sprain, for example, the therapist might reference peer-reviewed clinical protocols published about the same injury. For a patient living with obesity, walking program for obesity case studies that include treatment progressions, data, and patient demographics can be recommended.

PTs in an evidence-based practice can also use information gathered directly from patients. This can include background information such as age and gender, expressed needs and values, as well as any considerations that need to be made about a specific condition. Again, this is data directly from the patient that helps inform the PT program (as opposed to a blanket, non-specific approach based on, say, age or weight data alone).

The benefits of evidence-based care

The benefits of an evidence-based physical therapy practice extend to both clinician and patient:

    • Control variables, avoid complications – PT programs take time, as do results. Often, clinicians need to make adjustments throughout the course of a program. An evidence-based approach helps clinicians avoid the introduction of new variables while following successfully documented progressions. This also helps avoid complications such as reinjury.
    • Follow best practices – Clinicians base their recommendation on the best information at hand. This helps maximize the chance of a successful outcome. The systematic nature of evidence-based care helps clinicians rely on established principles and approaches. Many common injuries and conditions have associated best practices for the PT environment.
    • Patient confidence and morale – Most patients want to know that their therapy program is based on similar populations and conditions. Athletes recovering from injury or surgery, for example, want to know that their program is tailored to their specific ailment. The same applies for geriatric patients, those living with obesity, and so on.
    • Contribute knowledge – Evidence-based practices typically not only draw from existing information but contribute valuable data for the benefit of other clinics and patients. This can include demographic data, publications, and case studies that help demonstrate what does or doesn’t work.

How AlterG® supports evidence-based physical therapy

Evidence-based PT also encompasses the tools clinicians use to treat their patients. Tools like the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ can be deployed to both capture and leverage patient data, real-time. This includes features like video gait monitoring, which allows clinicians to visualize gait imbalances patients might not otherwise feel. Stride Smart technology precisely measures gravitational load and provides simplified feedback, so that clinicians can make incremental changes on the spot.

AlterG® is also dedicated to contributing useful clinical research. This includes case studies, clinical protocols for specific conditions and injuries, as well as product-specific studies and training.

Looking to move toward evidence-based therapy?

Our team will be happy to discuss the ways our tools might be a positive addition to your clinic. We offer demos around the country with certified PTs dedicated to delivering best-in-class care. Click the link below to learn more.

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