Use of thrust joint manipulation by student physical therapists in the United States during clinical education experiences

Marie B. Corkery*, Craig P. Hensley, Christopher Cesario, Sheng Che Yen, Kevin Chui, Carol Courtney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Thrust joint manipulation (TJM) is used in physical therapy practice and taught in entry-level curricula in the United States (US); however, research regarding implementation by student physical therapists (SPT)s is scarce. Objectives: To explore the use of TJM in SPT clinical education and factors influencing implementation. Methods: In a cross-sectional exploratory study, accredited physical therapy (PT) programs in the US (n = 227) were invited to participate in an electronic survey. SPTs were queried about TJM use and their clinical instructor’s (CI) credentials during their final musculoskeletal clinical experience. Results: Forty-five programs participated in the study, consisting of 2,147 SPTs. Of those, 414 (19.3%) responses were used for analysis and 69% reported using TJM. SPTs who utilized TJM were more likely to have a CI who used TJM (p < 0.001) and/or had advanced certification/training in manual therapy (p <.001). A majority of students agreed or strongly agreed that their academic preparation provided them with clinical reasoning tools (84%) and psychomotor skills (69%) necessary to perform TJM. SPT use of TJM was facilitated by CI clinical practice, SPT competence in psychomotor skill, confidence in clinical reasoning, and practice setting. A main barrier to student use of TJM was CI lack of TJM use. Conclusions: Clinical practice of the CI appears to be a key factor in determining student use of TJM. Level of evidence: 2b.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-274
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2020


  • Thrust joint manipulation
  • clinical Education
  • student physical therapist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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