Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Manipulation, Orthopedic -- methods; Physical Therapy -- methods


Manual Therapy (MT) has been used extensively since the origin of the Physical Therapy profession and includes massage, traction, exercise, stretching or compression of soft tissue, range of motion tests, manual muscle tests, palpation, joint mobilization and manipulation. Interest and enthusiasm for MT has especially grown among clinicians and educators in the last decade. However, despite its common use, research and documentation involving the efficacy and reliability of MT are extremely rare. Many techniques and concepts have yet to be justified. These concepts need to be critically tested, discussed, and revised, and the profession needs to be challenged to show outcome research or data.

The purpose of this study is to provide a current review of the following critical topics in MT: current definitions, reliability studies of palpation, and the efficacy of selected MT techniques for treatment. Ideas are presented on how to objectify both data and functional outcome measures, while keeping in mind the reality of clinical practice. Conclusions promote the need for testing and inquiry in both practice and labs, leading to solid theory and a more efficacious practice.