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Survey says ultrasound still popular with physical therapists in 2007

updated
Wong RA, Schumann B, Townsend R, Phelps CA. A survey of therapeutic ultrasound use by physical therapists who are orthopaedic certified specialists. Phys Ther. 2007 Aug;87(8):986–94. PubMed #17553923.
Tags: devices, physical therapy, treatment, manual therapy

PainSci summary of Wong 2007?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Ultrasound is widely used. This 2007 survey of the usage of ultrasound, the first such American survey for almost 20 years (see Robinson 1988), “examined the opinions of physical therapists with advanced competency in orthopedics about the use and perceived clinical importance of ultrasound.” They found that “ultrasound continues to be a popular adjunctive modality in orthopedic physical therapy. These findings may help researchers prioritize needs for future research on the clinical effectiveness of US.”

original abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: For many years, ultrasound (US) has been a widely used and well-accepted physical therapy modality for the management of musculoskeletal conditions. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence on its effectiveness. This study examined the opinions of physical therapists with advanced competency in orthopedics about the use and perceived clinical importance of US in managing commonly encountered orthopedic impairments.

SUBJECTS: Four hundred fifty-seven physical therapists who were orthopaedic certified specialists from the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States were invited to participate.

METHODS: A 77-item survey instrument was developed. After face and content validity were established, the survey instrument was mailed to all subjects. Two hundred seven usable survey questionnaires were returned (response rate=45.3%).

RESULTS: According to the surveys, the respondents indicated that they were likely to use US to decrease soft tissue inflammation (eg, tendinitis, bursitis) (83.6% of the respondents), increase tissue extensibility (70.9%), enhance scar tissue remodeling (68.8%), increase soft tissue healing (52.5%), decrease pain (49.3%), and decrease soft tissue swelling (eg, edema, joint effusion) (35.1%). The respondents used US to deliver medication (phonophoresis) for soft tissue inflammation (54.1%), pain management (22.2%), and soft tissue swelling (19.8%). The study provides summary data of the most frequently chosen machine parameters for duty cycle, intensity, and frequency.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Ultrasound continues to be a popular adjunctive modality in orthopedic physical therapy. These findings may help researchers prioritize needs for future research on the clinical effectiveness of US.

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