Written by: Alexis Theuring, PT, DPT
Brett and Lexi had the opportunity to attend the Team Concept Conference held by the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy last week! Along with many other esteemed medical professionals in the realm of sports rehabilitation, one of the speakers was Kevin Wilk, PT, DPT, FAPTA. Dr. Wilk is well known for perturbation training with high level athletes. He uses perturbation training during his physical therapy treatments for upper and lower extremity injuries.
Perturbation Training: What is it and when can it be done?
The word "perturbation" means "a physical disruption of some kind" and when used in physical therapy, it can look a lot like your PT is just tapping you in various directions. It can be done while you are balancing on one leg, on an unstable surface, with your eyes closed, or all three! Your body's natural response is to resist the "tapping" to keep from falling, and this requires neuromuscular/proprioceptive control that is lost during an injury. Athletes require this proprioceptive control when playing their sport because their body has to constantly respond to different stimuli without consciously thinking about it.
Not an athlete? Perturbation training is still important for you! It can be helpful for rehabilitation for shoulder injuries and lower extremity injuries to get you back to everyday functional activities and improve your balance and lower body stability. This is important when walking on unlevel surfaces - hiking, walking in the snow, walking on the beach, playing in the backyard in the grass, etc.