Evidence-Based Practice in Physical Therapy

Instructor: Joshua Bowles

Joshua is a Sports Medicine and Athletic Training Instructor and has a Master's degree in Kinesiology.

In this lesson we will discuss what evidence-based practice is in terms of research and how it applies in the Physical Therapy setting and what the potential benefits are.


Everyone knows someone - maybe in the workplace, or in their family - that is inconsistent. And more often than not this can be frustrating and time-consuming. Everyone loves consistency. Consistency in the medical field is of key importance. Quality healthcare and efficient practices help to ensure that the patients receive a quality treatment and that the practitioner provides the best quality treatment available based on the newest, most up-to-date research.

Evidence-Based Practice

The concept of evidence-based practice, is to find and apply research that is based on specific evidence to back up and support the claims and results. The goal behind this is to create a more consistent and factual baseline for which practitioners can better serve their patients. Evidence-based research provides a more comprehensive base of knowledge and information to provide practitioners with the most up-to-date developments and techniques to not only improve patient treatment outcomes, but provide a more well-rounded approach to how each individual practice can be efficiently managed.

The medical field is constantly changing and evolving and practitioners need to stay up with the latest and newest information. This is what evidence-based practice provides. Think of it in terms of a car. Research is completed every year on how well vehicles respond to crashes and how they can increase gas mileage while still maintaining power and smooth control just to name a few examples. If it wasn't for evidence-based research. we would still be driving around in cars that were not as effective in terms of safety and who knows what the gas mileage would be! As new information and technology improve, so must medical practitioners, in this case physical therapists.

Various Physical Therapists at work
Physical Therapists at work

EBP in Physical Therapy

So how does evidence-based practice become applicable within the scope of physical therapy? Physical therapy is a field of study within medicine that uses the knowledge of kinesiology, which is the study of human movement, and the use of manual therapy, therapeutic modalities, rehabilitation and exercise techniques to recover or improve upon the way the human body functions and moves. Goals of evidence-based practice in physical therapy include:

  • Ensuring that patient decisions are based on evidence
  • Provide better information to the patients
  • Being able to analyze and comprehend the latest research and be able to use that information for more improved patient care.
  • Develop new theories and treatment protocols based on the research in order to better suit the patients.

Research in the medical field is essential. Every aspect of medicine and health-related fields rely on research and new, creative information on a daily basis. Research that is not evidence-based has the potential to be of lesser quality or be manipulated by financial backers to sway the outcomes of the research in one way or the other. Other potential results non evidence-based research include, bias studies, false or misleading outcomes and out of date information.

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