Profession-based manual therapy nomenclature: exploring history, limitations, and opportunities




0000-0001-9972-2422 (Hensel, Kendi)

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Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group


OBJECTIVE: The International Consortium on Manual Therapies (ICMT) is a grassroots interprofessional association open to any formally trained practitioner of manual therapy (MT) and basic scientists promoting research related to the practice of MT. Currently, MT research is impeded by professions' lack of communication with other MT professions, biases, and vernacular. Current ICMT goals are to minimize these barriers, compare MT techniques, and establish an interprofessional MT glossary. METHODS: Practitioners from all professions with training in manual therapies were encouraged by e-mail and website to participate ( Video conferences were conducted at least bimonthly for 2.5 years by profession-specific and interprofessional focus groups (FGs). Members summarized scopes of practice, technique descriptions, associated mechanisms of action (MOA), and glossary terms. Each profession presented their work to the interprofessional FG to promote dialogue, understanding and consensus. Outcomes were reported and refined at numerous public events. RESULTS: Focus groups with representatives from 5 MT professions, chiropractic, massage therapy, osteopathic, physical therapy and structural integration identified 17 targeting osseous structures and 49 targeting nonosseous structures. Thirty-two techniques appeared distinct to a specific profession, and 13 were used by more than 1. Comparing descriptions identified additional commonalities. All professions agreed on 4 MOA categories for MT. A glossary of 280 terms and definitions was consolidated, representing key concepts in MT. Twenty-one terms were used by all MT professions and basic scientists. Five terms were used by MT professions exclusive of basic scientists. CONCLUSION: Outcomes suggested a third to a half of techniques used in MT are similar across professions. Additional research is needed to better define the extent of similarity and how to consistently identify those approaches. Ongoing expansion and refinement of the glossary is necessary to promote descriptive clarity and facilitate communication between practitioners and basic scientists.



Degenhardt, B., van Dun, P. L. S., Jacobson, E., Fritz, S., Mettler, P., Kettner, N., Franklin, G., Hensel, K., Lesondak, D., Consorti, G., Frank, L., Reed, W. R., MacDonald, C., Kremen, V., Martin, C., Landels, B., & Standley, P. (2024). Profession-based manual therapy nomenclature: exploring history, limitations, and opportunities. The Journal of manual & manipulative therapy, 32(1), 96-110.