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Our discipline

What is a muskuloskeletal physiotherapist?

A musculoskeletal physiotherapist specialises in the assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction. Becoming a musculoskeletal physiotherapist involves intensive postgraduate training in the diagnosis and treatment of physical disorders such as joint pain. This specialised training involves developing techniques in assessment and treatment of joint movement, nervous system mechanics, muscle strength, timing, co-ordination and length and body posture.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists are trained to use clinical reasoning to determine your specific problem and implement the most effective treatment program. Musculoskeletal physiotherapy Australia run a compulsory continuing education scheme where its members are kept abreast with the latest research and its clinical application. This ensures the maintenance of a high level of clinical expertise in musculoskeletal physiotherapists, facilitating the highest standard of care.

Ultrasound imaging

Ultrasound imaging has been used in medicine, principally obstetrics, since the 1950s. Since that time, ultrasound imaging has successfully been used in musculoskeletal medicine for assessment of muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments.

Since the 1990s, physiotherapists have used ultrasound imaging In the area of low back pain, this work was conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland. Our clinic co-ordinator pioneered the use of ultrasound imaging in physiotherapy and used it to measure the size of the multifidus muscle and to provide feedback of muscle contraction of the multifidus and transversus abdominis muscles. The original randomised clinical trial of his approach was conducted on patients with acute low back pain at Mater Health Services. Results showed that retraining motor control of the transversus abdominis and multifidus muscles resulted in decreased rates of recurrence of LBP. Mater/UQ Back Stability Clinic was established in Brisbane to formally operationalize the emerging research. Rehabilitative ultrasound imaging is now taught in undergraduate and post graduate levels of physiotherapy at Australian Universities, and widely used in private practices and hospitals throughout Australia.

Ultrasound imaging today

Real-time ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to show you an instant image of your body tissues. It allows the physiotherapist to see what is felt below their hands. This is particularly useful for deep structures that are hard to feel. When using ultrasound for rehabilitation of people with low back pain, we focus on the control and co-ordination of the muscles. We also note parameters of muscle size including length, thickness and cross-sectional area of muscles. Precise visual feedback provides the patient with effective motor learning and improves the voluntary activation of the deep stability muscles. Reliability and validity of these measurements has been well established and ultrasound imaging appears to have the potential to directly influence and improve patient care.