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Phys Ther. 2009 Mar;89(3):267-82. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20080130. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

Movement variability and the use of nonlinear tools: principles to guide physical therapist practice.

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Physical Therapy Department, Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 985450 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-5450, USA.


Fields studying movement generation, including robotics, psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience, utilize concepts and tools related to the pervasiveness of variability in biological systems. The concepts of variability and complexity and the nonlinear tools used to measure these concepts open new vistas for physical therapist practice and research in movement dysfunction of all types. Because mounting evidence supports the necessity of variability for health and functional movement, this perspective article argues for changes in the way therapists view variability, both in theory and in action. By providing clinical examples, as well as applying existing knowledge about complex systems, the aim of this article is to create a springboard for new directions in physical therapist research and practice.

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