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Spinal Dynamics of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA)

Sometimes the pain you are experiencing isn’t always coming from the place you feel it. For example, knee pain may not be coming from the knee itself, but could be coming from problems either above (the hip) or below (the foot). If the knee is not the primary cause of the pain, directing treatment there may be ineffective. The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) can help.

The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) is a comprehensive assessment technique used by clinicians to help determine the underlying causes of someone’s pain to appropriately direct treatment to the dysfunctional area. It involves testing seven fundamental movements and allows the clinician to figure out what is actually affecting their movement and influencing their pain. Many professional sports teams, Division I college teams, and other high-level athletes utilize the SFMA to help improve pain, function, and performance. It is also an effective way to look at all patients, not just athletes, from a whole-body perspective.

Spinal Dynamics & Body Dynamics of Wisconsin is privileged to have several physical therapists trained in the SFMA process. One of our therapists, Matt Kinkade, DPT, recently had the opportunity to attend the SFMA Level 2 course in Chicago and was kind enough to share his experience here on our blog.

By: Matt Kinkade, DPT

Matt Kinkade, DPT recently took the SFMA Level 2 course in Chicago.

One of the things that I love about working at Spinal Dynamics is having the opportunity to discuss difficult diagnoses with our staff of experienced clinicians. Over the past year, I have observed Meg Gogin, MPT integrate some of the concepts from SFMA Level 2 into her practice and therapy interventions. Before going to this course, I looked at these “exercises” as tasks only and did not understand the rationale or background behind them. Now I have a better understanding of the motor control and motor learning background behind these interventions.

While SFMA Level 1 focused on assessment or finding and identifying dysfunctional movement, SFMA Level 2 focused on correcting the dysfunctional movement with an emphasis on motor control and motor learning. For example, when one patient might need dry needling and joint mobilization for decreased thoracic rotation, another patient might need rolling and chopping patterns. The first patient may have stiffness in the area and needs assistance to loosen the area up, while the second patient has the joint mobility but is not able to use it correctly due to inadequate muscle control. The decision is made based on a thorough evaluation of functional movement and of the surrounding tissues.

Some of my patients may hear me use terms such as “reset,” “reinforce,” and “reload” with therapy interventions. These terms come from the SFMA and their analogy of a computer model. If your computer becomes “dysfunctional” often the first step is to RESET the system. After a reset, we want to reinforce the improved behavior and RELOAD the system with the proper software. We want to reload our brains with the proper motor patterns for pain-free and functional movement. The second SFMA course focused mainly on the RELOADING portion but also touched on some reset and reinforcement techniques.  I now have a better repertoire of motor control exercises with the proper rationale and background to appropriately implement with appropriate patients.

SFMA Level 2 was well worth my time and money and helped me grow as a clinician. It was beneficial for me to catch up and rub shoulders with some of my fellow colleagues and apply proper assessment and interventions to promote functional movement.

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Want to know more?

If you have been struggling with repeat or stubborn injuries that aren’t responding well, the SFMA may reveal some underlying problems that could be influencing your symptoms. Learn more about the Selective Functional Movement Assessment at their website or give our clinic a call at (414) 302-0770 to set up an appointment with one of our SFMA-trained clinicians.