How much human anatomy is a physical therapist required to know?

I’m really disappointed in my physical therapy. I was assigned to a certain therapist, but I really only saw him on my first visit. Since then he has relegated me to one or another of his interns and I have not seen the same one twice. There’s always somebody different each time I go. This necessitates explaining to each new intern what my injury and treatment regimen is. It’s like they don’t even look at my chart before I arrive. Also, the place where I go often over-books patients and can schedule up to 10 patients at one session. I don’t think that this is efficient for the therapist OR the patients. One woman patient I’ve seen there always brings her 4 kids who the proceed to run around the place and climb around on the therapy equipment like it was a playground. Nobody says anything to them.
The last time I was there, I told the intern that I was having discomfort in my instep. She looked at my arch. I said, "No, not my arch, my INSTEP." Then she looked at my sole. I finally said, "Do you know where the instep is?" She just looked confused. I am wondering how qualified these so-called "therapists" are?

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  • mistify

    Sounds like a very inefficient site where you are attending physical theapy. It is certainly not uncommon to have a PT on your first visit and see the PTA (assistant, not intern) on the second visit or even a different PT, but to see a different person everytime you go is inefficient. I understand your frustation. We don’t like it anymore than you; however, if you are someone who is very particular with time, this may be unavoidable. For instance, we had a patient who came in one time and said she could only have her appointment on Monday and Wednesday and can only come a 4 or 4:15, not 3:45, and most certainly not 4:30…so she got a mix of therapists. It was her choice.

    As far as the anatomy taken, most PTs take Anatomy and Physiology as an undergraduate and advanced physiology and gross human anatomy (human dissection) as a graduate student. As PTs, we must know the origins, actions and innervations of all the muscles, all the bones as well as their landmarks. We must remember the names of the nerves as well as what their oirgin is. We must know all the organs, etc, but obviously the focus in on the musculoskeletal system.

    As far as PTA’s, they do not generally take gross human anatomy, but usually get some degree of anatomy which is usually taught on plastic models.

    The problem with the phrase "in-step" is that it is not a scientific term and is a lay-persons term. Therefore, it is open to interpretation and is not consistent in how people apply it. I would have looked at your arch too if you told me your instep hurts. Now, if you told me the dorsum of your foot hurt, I would know exactly what you meant. This is the scientific term for the top of the foot. However, I do not expect patients to understand that description…simply saying the "top" of the foot would be sufficient.

    Please know that it does not in anyway, reflect the level of intelligence of your therapist…I’m sure she’d say the same things. Now if she couldn’t locate the "dorsum" of the foot, then I would question her intelligence.

  • mairdo51

    All of it.

    Sounds like your therapists know the anatomy more than they know how to run a business.

  • Kevin


    I’m a university anatomy lecturer.

    I’ve been teaching it for 5 years.

    There is no such place/thing as an ‘instep’.

    This may explain why the therapist had no idea what you were talking about.


  • kapustafooz

    Then I guess this diagram taken from NYU medical site is erroneous, Kevin?

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