A Model for Teaching and Learning Spinal Thrust Manipulation and Its Effect on Participant Confidence in Technique Performance


Physical Therapy

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The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy

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BACKGROUND: Despite emerging evidence to support the use of high velocity thrust manipulation in the management of lumbar spinal conditions, utilization of thrust manipulation among clinicians remains relatively low. One reason for the underutilization of these procedures may be related to disparity in training in the performance of these techniques at the professional and post professional levels.

PURPOSE: To assess the effect of using a new model of active learning on participant confidence in the performance of spinal thrust manipulation and the implications for its use in the professional and post-professional training of physical therapists.

METHODS: A cohort of 15 DPT students in their final semester of entry-level professional training participated in an active training session emphasizing a sequential partial task practice (SPTP) strategy in which participants engaged in partial task practice over several repetitions with different partners. Participants' level of confidence in the performance of these techniques was determined through comparison of pre- and post-training session surveys and a post-session open-ended interview.

RESULTS: The increase in scores across all items of the individual pre- and post-session surveys suggests that this model was effective in changing overall participant perception regarding the effectiveness and safety of these techniques and in increasing student confidence in their performance. Interviews revealed that participants greatly preferred the SPTP strategy, which enhanced their confidence in technique performance.

CONCLUSION: Results indicate that this new model of psychomotor training may be effective at improving confidence in the performance of spinal thrust manipulation and, subsequently, may be useful for encouraging the future use of these techniques in the care of individuals with impairments of the spine. Inasmuch, this method of instruction may be useful for training of physical therapists at both the professional and post-professional levels.


thrust manipulation, active learning, psychomotor training