As a patient that has seen ortho, neuro, and movement specialist doctors - I have been unbelievably surprised at their lack of knowledge when it comes to muscle testing. I knew that we were the specialists in body movement, but I didn't know that other doctors did screening that would only pick up on huge, multi-muscle deficits with no awareness of compensation.
A thorough PT evaluation can look at every muscle group in your body and even get more specific to individual muscles in areas that grossly show weakness (not all PTs are trained in the more specific muscle testing and if they were they rarely use it clinically). They should be able to tell just by watching you move (before they even get to muscle strength testing) what muscle groups are strong or weak and what your body is compensating with to get through you movements as normal as possible.
It's rare to just go to a PT evaluation for strength, but if that is what is specifically requested I suppose they could just do that. They usually look at balance, functional measures such as gait, endurance, and quality of life in order to set goals for a plan of care. But if a baseline is all that is needed, then it would be more of a consultation and less of an evaluation for goal setting process.
Muscles are graded on a 0 - 5 scale. 0 is no muscle contraction at all and 5 is normal strength. Functionally, you need a 3/5 for upper extremities and a 4/5 for lower extremities and that basic screen is usually all that doctors are looking for though not helpful when really comparing progression.
It's my experience (as a PT and a patient) that neuro PTs are actually less precise with muscle strength grading than ortho PTs because specific muscle strength is usually not as important in neuro conditions. Most neuro PTs need to know generally what's up, while with someone with a very specific shoulder injury - you'd have to maybe test 8 specific muscle before you found the weaker one causing the issue. Neuro PTs are a must for actual treatment because ortho PTs are usually terrible with factors like fatigue, but often they are more big picture with strength testing.
Oh my goodness this got long! Is everyone bored yet?!
Opps, I meant to type in my post I am now considering doing it. Thanks for the info, when I went to the physio for a nasty fall off my horse she suggested doing it so I had a baseline and I said I didn't think I was so bad, but now because I had this thing where my arms went weak and useless I kinda thought maybe it might be useful.
My GP thought that maybe some physio in my upper back would be good for me and perhaps might help with migraines?? As I have had a few nasty falls in my time.
It sounds interesting what they can tell. When I went last time she made me do similar things to what my neuro makes me do. I can not do the walk with one foot in front of the other anymore, I find that impossible, I get bad extension tremor in my arm, she noticed that and apparently resistance in my left leg, whatever that means..lol
She looks after all the MS patients and is the only person in our city with that qualification.
Thanks Ashley, but now I wonder if I should go..lol
I don't feel that affected, just a little bit.
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