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Selective Functional Movement Assessment

Improving treatment outcomes with therapy matching your problem, not symptoms

The Selective Functional Movement Assessment is the counterpart to our Functional Movement Screen. The deciding factor on what system we use to evaluate proper movement and function is the presence of pain. The Selective Functional Movement Assessment is used to properly diagnose painful and dysfunctional movement patterns to guide proper care of pain and injury, whereas the Functional Movement Screen is used as a screen of movement competency to help with prediction of injury risk with training and athletic participation for those who do not currently have pain. In other words, the SFMA is utilized to help you improve from a current injury and the FMS is used to prevent one from happening in the future. If a patient presents with pain associated with movement or is found to have pain on our Functional Movement Screen, we utilize this method of movement-based assessment to improve our accuracy and specificity of determining what specifically is resulting in your pain or problem.

There are a number of factors that must be considered when properly assessing mechanical or musculoskeletal pain:

  • We move in patterns made up of parts, therefore when assessing pain associated with movement we need to evaluate how all of the parts work together and not on an isolated or individual basis; i.e. if your low back hurts when you run, could it be that you are overworking your low back as a result of having weakness or loss of mobility in your hip that is resulting in your low back pain?

  • Pain and prior injury creates modification and adaptation of muscle function during movement related activities, referred to as motor control (how our nervous system turns muscles "on" or "off" depending upon activity). These changes in motor control can disrupt proper coordination and patterning of muscle activation resulting in lack of stability in one area that needs to be compensated for by another leading to overload and overuse injuries to the area that is having to compensate.

  • Loss of mobility to a region or joint can result in overuse to another region to accomplish an activity, which can lead to pain in the area of overuse.

  • Even though pain can modify or alter function, it is a symptom and not a functional entity that demonstrates where the problem is coming from.

  • Verify that the pain that a person is experiencing is musculoskeletal in nature and not associated with another condition that would not be amenable to mechanical or physical therapy and would require a referral to another specialist

As previously discussed, the purpose of the SFMA is to assess the patient who is already in pain and to discover regional movement dysfunctions that cause local symptoms. The SFMA addresses this critical issue referred to as Regional Interdependence. Regional Interdependence refers to the concept that a patient’s primary musculoskeletal pain may be directly or indirectly related or influenced by impairments from various body regions and systems regardless of proximity to their pain. For example, pain in your lower back could be related to poor mobility or strength in a knee or hip that is increasing demand to your lower back leading to overuse and pain. As a result, there are times when in addition to treating the local area of pain your treatment must also focus on these other regions that are associated with your pain. However, in order to know how and what needs to be addressed in your treatment, we must first properly determine what is mechanically involved with your symptom of pain in a region. The SFMA provides the tool necessary to properly assess your condition and discover how Regional Interdependence is affecting your pain, which allows your therapy to be better guided and more specific to the cause of your pain.

Similar to the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) the SFMA utilizes seven motion assessments to allow for a thorough mechanical assessment of your condition. The seven assessments performed analyze function, interplay, and performance of your bodies ability to properly move. As a result, we are better able to guide further testing of regions that demonstrate dysfunction on the assessment to more specifically guide your evaluation and ultimately the corrective plan of care that will be prescribed. This method of assessment and care not only helps to eliminate your pain, but at the same time improving strength and function to help your results remain long-term.

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