Guest blogger, Dr. Michael Wong has been collaborating with a few of his colleagues to create a mobile app designed to develop clinical reasoning in new physical therapists.
By Michael Wong, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Navigating the maze of physical therapy education is challenging and often overwhelming. I remember what that was like; hundreds of pages to read about endless pathologies, special tests, manual therapy techniques and exercises.
When I graduated, and got in front of real patients, sometimes it was hard to know how to put it all together! Unlike clinicians with years of experience, newly minted physical therapists often have difficulty matching interventions (i.e., manual therapy and exercise) to relevant key findings, which can result in treating irrelevant impairments, and less than optimal outcomes.
So, why don’t physical therapists emerge from their doctoral programs with this mastery in place? Well, for one thing, this expertise just takes time, like any other profession. And from the perspective of this physical therapy educator, part of the answer lies in the design of most physical therapy programs.
In gross anatomy we ask you to remember every bone, muscle, nerve and joint. (We’ll tell you why it’s important later… maybe.) Then we hit you with some clinical skills like manual muscle tests and range of motion measurements. Next we squeeze in all the pathologies from A to Z. Then, we throw in orthopedic evaluation of the extremities. (Wait, doesn’t the spine play into many extremity conditions? Never mind, that’s coming next year.) Sometimes we present up to five special tests for every possible condition, and then wait for a couple of semesters before we tell you how to treat what you find. And, once we do, we give you five different ways to treat one impairment; use whichever treatment you want (just don’t forget any of them), and good luck knowing which patient to use them with and when.
In defense of your professors and programs, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place sometimes. We struggle with trying to make the class comprehensive enough to help each student pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), while at the same time trying to blend all of the useful information from the great leaders of our profession. We often have inherited the course structure and have little say about what goes where. We have to teach you about many conditions and tests, with too little time, while trying to make things black and white, when in reality patients exist in a world of gray. That’s why we created this app. Clinical Pattern Recognition is the first guideline-based clinical reasoning app. It includes:
- High definition videos of condition linked physical exam components, including key findings, movement faults and differential diagnosis;
- Expected clinical findings, including prevalence, reported history and simulated patient videos;
- A pain pattern linked clinical hypothesis generator;
- Condition specific manual therapy, movement correction and exercise; and,
- Patient education components.
This app can’t take the place of physical therapy school. You still have to graduate with all of the knowledge required of an entry-level practitioner. But, it can help ease the transition from entry-level to expert clinician.
For more information, check out the video below, or visit us at http://www.clinicalpatternrecognition.com
A FREE lite version or the full app can be found here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/clinical-pattern-recognition/id725106395?mt=8&uo=4
Dr. Michael Wong holds a full time appointment as an Associate Professor at Azusa Pacific University, teaching in the specialty areas of Modalities, Therapeutic Exercises, Orthopedic Physical Therapy, Evidence Based Practice, Diagnostic imaging and Medical Screening. He is a residency and fellowship trained orthopaedic clinical specialist. He currently lectures for the Southern California Kaiser Permanente Orthopaedic Fellowship and Sports Rehabilitation Program and the University of Southern California (USC) Spine Fellowship.