After APTA's House of Delegates adopted a new vision statement for the physical therapy profession, the association's Board of Directors recognized that in order for the physical therapy profession to achieve the vision as articulated by its guiding principles it would be necessary to integrate consistent application of the "movement system" (as mentioned in the guiding principle on "Identity") in physical therapist practice, education, and research.
Before that could happen, it was important to define the concept of the movement system. The Board therefore convened a work group to develop that definition. After careful consideration of various theoretical, linguistic, and conceptual possibilities, the work group decided on a 2-part definition of "movement system," which the Board has adopted.
Definition of the 'Movement System'
The "movement system" represents the collection of systems (cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, integumentary, nervous, and musculoskeletal) that interact to move the body or its component parts.
Physical Therapist Practice and the Movement System
Human movement is a complex behavior within a specific context.
- Physical therapists provide a unique perspective on purposeful, precise, and efficient movement across the lifespan based upon the synthesis of their distinctive knowledge of the movement system and expertise in mobility and locomotion.
- Physical therapists examine and evaluate the movement system (including diagnosis and prognosis) to provide a customized and integrated plan of care to achieve the individual's goal-directed outcomes.
- Physical therapists maximize an individual's ability to engage with and respond to his or her environment using movement-related interventions to optimize functional capacity and performance.
View the Movement System Diagram (.pdf)
Movement System Summit
In 2016, the Movement System Summit brought together 100 thought leaders in the physical therapy profession to provide input on recommendations for integrating the movement system concept into physical therapist practice, education, and research.
At the summit, diagnostic criteria were agreed upon and subsequently approved at the April 2017 Board of Directors meeting. This was the first step in addressing the 2015 House of Delegates position Management of the Movement System, which states "APTA endorses the development of diagnostic labels and/or classification systems that reflect and contribute to the physical therapists' ability to properly and effectively manage disorders of the movement system." The following criteria can be used by any stakeholder group that is developing diagnostic classification systems/labels:
- Use recognized movement-related terms to describe the condition or syndrome of the movement system.
- Include, if deemed necessary, the name of the pathology, disease, disorder, anatomical or physiological terms, and stage of recovery associated with the diagnosis.
- Be as succinct and direct as possible to improve clinical usefulness.
- Strive for movement system diagnoses that span all populations, health conditions, and the lifespan. Whenever possible, use similar movement-related terms to describe similar movements, regardless of pathology or other characteristics of the patient or client.
Learn more about the movement system in the white paper below.