Differential Diagnosis in PT, Part 05: When to Screen for Systemic Disease and When to Refer


Physical therapists must be able to identify signs and symptoms of systemic disease that can mimic neuromuscular or musculoskeletal (referred to as neuromusculoskeletal or NMS) dysfunction. It is critical for physical therapists to be well versed at determining when referral to a physician (or other appropriate health care professional) is necessary. 

The instructional focus of this course is on developing advanced clinical reasoning skills
related to determining a client's appropriateness for physical therapy. The course builds on concepts of evidence based clinical practice as they are used to identify conditions that might mimic neuromuscular or musculoskeletal dysfunction. 

Upon completion of this course, the Learner will be able to: 
  • Describe the role of screening for systemic disease in making a physical therapy diagnosis
  • Incorporate the Guide into the medical screening process 
  • Use the Review of Systems in the screening process 
  • Screen for systemic disease based on client history, clinical presentation, and presence of associated signs and symptoms
  • Identify which conditions require medical referral.

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