12-2 The Use of Diagnostic Ultrasound in Physical Therapy

The Use of Diagnostic Ultrasound in Physical Therapy
Gali Dar, PT, Ph.D


Ultrasound imaging involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves in order to produce images of the inside of the body. Ultrasound images of the musculoskeletal system provide pictures of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and soft tissue throughout the body. Rehabilitative ultrasound imaging (RUSI) refers to the use of diagnostic ultrasound by physical therapists in order to evaluate muscle and related soft tissues morphology and function during exercises and physical tasks, with the aim of improving  the physical therapy outcomes. The use of RUSI has increased during the last decade. RUSI is particularly relevant for the assessment and rehabilitation of abdominal and deep back muscles (in relation to low back pain), and pelvic floor muscles. It is commonly used as a tool for biofeedback.

This paper describes the principles of diagnostic ultrasound, its use in physical therapy, main findings from research that has been conducted on abdominal and back muscles, comparison with other imaging techniques, and the advantages and disadvantages of ultrasound as an imaging medium.

Key words: ultrasound, physical therapy, imaging techniques.


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