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Movement System Diagnosis

Van Sant, Ann F. PT, PhD, FAPTA

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: July 2017 - Volume 41 - Issue - p S10–S16
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0000000000000152
Special Interest Articles

Background and Purpose: This article presents the concept of movement system diagnoses (MSDxs), including an examination of the evolution of the ideas that are shaping the development of MSDxs.

Summary of Key Points: Ideas leading to development of the need for MSDxs are traced, and an overview of Diagnosis Dialog and points of consensus are provided. Four examples from areas of neurologic and pediatric practice where additional work is needed on movement system diagnosis are highlighted.

Clinical Practice: The development and use of MSDxs are deemed critical to the future development of practice in pediatric and neurologic physical therapy. The prediction of treatment outcomes through research is dependent on homogeneous groups of patients with similar signs and symptoms of movement system disorders. Only by investigating homogeneous groups with refined MSDxs will it be possible to carefully examine and identify interventions that are appropriate to a specific diagnosis. Further, our ability to identify disordered movements, including inactivity and over-activity that could lead across time to disabling conditions presents a strong argument for establishing movement system diagnoses that forewarn of the risk of disordered movement poses to health. Such movement system diagnoses would guide interventions that deter the development of disabling conditions rooted in disordered movement.

Department of Physical Therapy, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence: Ann F. Van Sant, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Department of Physical Therapy, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122 (

This paper was presented at the IV STEP Conference sponsored by the Neurologic and Pediatric Academies of the American Physical Therapy Association, July 15, 2016, at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

The author has no conflicts of interest to declare.

© 2017 Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, APTA