Little research has been done regarding the use and application of the muscle energy technique in physical therapy. The purpose of this study was to determine the number of Oregon physical therapists using the muscle energy approach and to gather information on the use and application of the technique in the clinical setting.
A questionnaire was sent to 400 physical therapists who are members of the Oregon Physical Therapy Association. The usable return was 206 (52.3%). Approximately forty-one percent of the respondents use the muscle energy technique. The therapists who use the muscle energy technique tend to work in private practice (51.2%). Chi-square analysis showed a statistically significant difference between the specialty areas (p < .0001) with orthopedics being the primary specialty area (70.6%). Chi-square analysis also revealed that there was a statistically significant difference between how therapists learned their muscle energy skills (p < .0001) with most learning the technique through a continuing education course (51.9%). Clinically, physical therapists use the muscle energy approach for evaluation and treatment (56%) and use it primarily on the neck (cervical spine 12.5%) and the back (thoracic spine 8.8%, lumbar spine 11.9%, and sacroiliac joint 17.2%). The types of conditions the technique is used on are varied but focus on the neck, back, or pelvic dysfunctions or malalignments. Muscle energy treatment was found to be useful to increase range of motion (69.4%), decrease pain (67.1%), and increase function (58.8%).
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