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May 1, 2008

Range Of Motion

I remember in massage school where we were taught that our clients demonstrate their range of motion so that we could determine where we needed to work when they came in with a complaint. Each joint, because of its architecture, has it's own variety of ranges for motion. For example, the shoulder, a true hinge joint, allows for flexion and extension. If a client has limited range in that motion, we knew to work with the structures that would limit normal motion.

However, in PT school, we're learning that unassisted range of motion, as demonstrated in the above example, only represents a portion of possible range of motion options at a given joint. Depending upon a patient's status (post-op, paralysis, marathon training), range of motion can be passive, assisted, or unassisted, either by necessity or by a doctor's orders.

Especially in the case of passive range of motion, good communication is required so that the patient is not put into a range that creates pain. The same was true of any modality that we used with massage, because, frankly, most people are not coming to us to be put into pain. There is some expectation for discomfort in recovery therapy, however, but excess pain causes splinting. When splinting occurs, trust may have been broken, range of motion decreases (whether consciously or not) and little good is being done for the patient/client.

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Posted by linda at May 1, 2008 2:24 PM

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