Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

Advisor 1

Emilio Puentedura

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Second Committee Member

Kai-Yu Ho

Number of Pages



Study Design: Online survey study. Objective: To determine physical therapists’ utilization of thrust joint manipulation (TJM) and their comfort level in using TJM between the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the spine. We hypothesized that physical therapists who use TJM would report regular use and comfort providing it to the thoracic and lumbar spines, but not so much for the cervical spine. Background: Recent surveys of first professional physical therapy degree programs have found that TJM to the cervical spine is not taught to the same degree as to the thoracic and lumbar spines. Methods: We developed a survey to capture the required information and had a Delphi panel of 15 expert orthopedic physical therapists reviewed it and provide constructive feedback. A revised version of the survey was sent to the same Delphi panel and consensus was obtained on the final survey instrument. The revised survey was made available to any licensed physical therapists in the USA using an online survey system, from October 2014 through June 2015. Results: Of 1014 responses collected, 1000 completed surveys were included for analysis. There were 478 (48%) males; the mean age of respondents was 39.7 ± 10.81 years (range 24 – 92); and mean years of clinical experience was 13.6 ± 10.62. A majority of respondents felt that TJM was safe and effective when applied to lumbar (90.5%) and thoracic (91.1%) spines; however, a smaller percentage (68.9%) felt that about the cervical spine. More therapists reported they would perform additional screening prior to providing TJM to the cervical spine than they would for the lumbar and thoracic spine. Therapists agreed they were less likely to provide and feel comfortable with TJM in the cervical spine compared to the thoracic and lumbar spine. Finally, therapists who are male; practice in orthopedic spine setting; are aware of manipulation clinical prediction rules; and have manual therapy certification, are more likely to use TJM and be comfortable with it in all 3 regions. Conclusion: Results indicate that respondents do not believe TJM for the cervical spine to be as safe and efficacious as that for the lumbar and thoracic spines. Further, they are more likely to perform additional screening, abstain from and do not feel comfortable performing TJM for the cervical spine. Clinical Relevance: Our research reveals there is a discrepancy between utilization of TJM at different spinal levels. This research provides an opportunity to address variability in clinical practice among physical therapists utilizing TJM.


Thrust joint manipulation; Manipulation; Manual therapy; Mobilization; Survey


Physical Therapy

File Format


File Size

1.362 Kb

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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