Continuing education is important in any profession, but especially in healthcare. At Battle Born Health, we are on a mission to make you stronger than yesterday, and a big part of that mission is our approach to treating the problem, not the symptom.

To further our expertise in functional assessment, Dr. Litoff, DPT and Dr. Martinez, DPT attended a two-day conference on the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA). It was a refresher for Dr. Litoff, DPT who had completed the training 10 years ago. This course deepened both of their ability to assess and heal the root cause of movement issues rather than just treating the pain or the symptoms.

What is SFMA?

SFMA is a comprehensive assessment used to classify movement patterns. The practice identifies areas of the body for examination of movement and flexibility, and directs manual therapy and therapeutic exercise treatment plans.

The SFMA is a system that helps physical therapists incorporate a movement baseline into their musculoskeletal exam. This creates a more pattern-specific perspective of how each individual patient moves in relationship to their body and medical diagnosis.

How is SFMA used in diagnosis and treatment?

The patient has to be experiencing pain in the body for a physical therapist to complete a Selective Functional Movement Assessment. Often times the source of the pain is in a completely different part of the body than the actual issue causing the symptom.

For example, a patient may experience immobility in the back, which is creating pain and stress in the knees or hips. If we treat the pain in the legs, the patient may see temporary relief, but it is not until we treat and fix the mobility in the back that the pain in the legs will fully resolve.

By using the SFMA, we can address the problems so that the symptoms go away much faster and more efficiently. This provides the patient with a much healthier body overall. The systematic approach allows us to find the source of the problem. If your body is hurt, it will protect itself by not letting the injured area move. This results in hypermobility somewhere else, creating that imbalance and often, pain.

For example, if you have a lack of mobility in the right ankle, that can actually cause hip pain on the left side. If we focused on the hip pain, we may miss the problem entirely.

Why are these assessments important?

Completing the SFMA allows us as physical therapists to break down the body to find the common movement patterns and the dysfunctional movement patterns. Armed with this knowledge of an individual’s unique movement we can treat the source of the issues for good. If we were to focus on symptomatic change (just treating the pain), the patient may come for one or two visits and get some relief, but that does not mean the problem is fixed. With SFMA we don’t go for the short-term symptomatic change – we focus on long term recovery by identifying and treating what is driving the problem.

At Battle Born Health, we particularly like this philosophy and approach to orthopedic physical therapy because it so directly aligns with our functional medicine practice. Functional medicine looks at the whole person and all of their functional systems to find the root of their symptoms. Often at our facility we see women who have felt not themselves, having a myriad symptoms of for a long time and that have not been diagnosed or given prescriptions to relieve the symptoms, but they have never resolved the root issues of what is making them sick. Functional Medicine changes that and takes women from fat, fatigued and frustrated to healthy and thriving.

Having similar philosophies and approaches to orthopedic physical therapy as we do to functional medicine ensures that we are always taking a whole patient approach to solve the problem for good. This allows all our patients to heal fully and be stronger than yesterday!