driver testing at Thrive Physical Therapy in downtown New YorkHave you ever experienced pain that either came out of nowhere or started immediately after a traumatic injury? Most people can respond YES to that question. Have you ever had physical therapy treatment for those symptoms, and was your physical therapy experience effective?

At Thrive, all of our therapists are trained in DRIVER TESTING, which is a unique approach that we use to figure out the root cause of each individual’s pain. Our method has been very successful in returning our patients back to their prior level of function, whether that’s being able to sit at a desk to work for 8 hours or being able to return to exercise or sport.

First, we have our patients perform a functional task that’s meaningful to them- and that can range from standing up from a chair, going down stairs, walking, running, Lotus position in yoga, doing a grand plié in ballet, etc.

During our functional task assessment, we look for areas of uncontrolled movement or a give.

Is the person’s knee giving inwards when they perform a squat due to a muscular imbalance at the hip? Is the person limited in motion at their ankle from a previous ankle sprain, which is leading to poor biomechanics at the knee?

We find the area that is moving too much or not being controlled well by certain muscle groups, and we retrain the muscular control or strength in that area to prevent that excessive movement. In the case of patellofemoral pain, we would retrain the core stabilizers of the knee, the Popliteus and Vastus Medialis Oblique.

We also find the specific areas of restriction that are leading to that excessive motion; we call this driver testing. When a joint is restricted, the body likes to compensate and adapt by moving more at other joints. For example, you can have a restricted hip joint and muscle imbalance at the hip that’s causing an excessive lateral glide or compression to the patella during activities that involve bending your knee. Maybe there are trigger points or knots in the quadriceps muscle or TFL, which need to be released and stretched in order to restore length in the muscle and improve mobility at the knee joint.

Habitual postures can also lead to muscle imbalances. A person may be sitting at their desk all day slouching forwards, which can lead to tight hip flexors and lengthened/weak glute muscles. Tight hip flexors can lead to a lack of hip extension range of motion, thus driving an issue at the back. Because the body likes to find ways around restrictions, this person might compensate with excessive mobility at the low back joints to make up for that lack of hip mobility. Over time, changes in these tissues structures can ultimately become a source of pain. However, this can be treated with physical therapy!

Our assessment is very specific so that we can individualize your treatment plan and address the root cause of your symptoms. Our approach at Thrive has been very effective and allows our patients to return to the activities that they enjoy doing every day.

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Morgan Locker, PT, DPT, MSCS, OCS, LSVT BIG Certified Clinician physical therapist NoHo NYC

Morgan Locker, PT, DPT, MSCS, OCS, LSVT BIG Certified Clinician, utilizes a combination of driver testing and functional movement analysis to specifically diagnose the cause of her clients’ symptoms. Her treatment approach includes a combination of manual therapy techniques and movement re-education in order for her patients to achieve symptom-free, optimal function.  Morgan is an adjunct faculty member at Dominican College’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.