Manual Therapy in Preadolescent Children: A Delphi Investigation of Physical Therapists in the United States.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: Limited research has investigated the use of manual therapy to treat the preadolescent (0-12 years of age) population with musculoskeletal and neurological impairments. The purpose of this study was to identify the following among physical therapists holding advanced credentials in pediatrics, neurodevelopmental treatment, or manual therapy: (1) consensus regarding effective techniques in the preadolescent population, (2) differences in opinion, and (3) perceived decision-making barriers and factors regarding use of manual therapy techniques. METHODS: Credentialed physical therapists in the United States were recruited for a 3-round Delphi investigation. An electronic survey in Round 1 identified musculoskeletal and neurological impairments and the manual techniques considered effective to treat such conditions, in addition to factors and barriers. Responses were used to create the second round, during which a 4-point Likert scale was used to score each survey item. A third round of scoring established consensus. Descriptive statistics and composite scores were calculated for each manual technique by impairment. Between-group differences were calculated using the Mann-Whitney U test with Bonferroni correction. RESULTS: Consensus was determined for several concepts. First, neuromuscular techniques were considered effective across all impairments, and joint mobilizations (grades I-IV) were believed to be effective to treat joint and muscle and myofascial impairments. Second, visceral manipulation and craniosacral therapy were considered ineffective in treating most impairments. There was lack of consensus and clear differences of opinion regarding the use of grade V mobilizations and dry needling. Significant barriers to use of manual therapy were: lack of knowledge, lack of evidence, and fear of litigation and harming patients. CONCLUSION: This study is an initial step for developing manual therapy guidelines, research, and educational opportunities regarding manual therapy in pediatric physical therapy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dice, JL; Dendy, D; Sizer, PS; Cook, CE; Feuling, S; Brismée, J-M

Published Date

  • April 4, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 101 / 4

PubMed ID

  • 33513233

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-6724

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/ptj/pzab027


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States