Imagine one of your patients is struggling with a knee mobility issue. You’ve tried everything you can remember from school, internships and colleagues, but you still don’t know how to treat the problem. Then your supervisor recommends an episode of one of their favorite physical therapy podcasts about the causes behind recurring knee mobility problems.
Within just a few minutes of listening, you learn about a new examination technique you didn’t know about. When trying it with your patient, you identify an irregularity you had missed earlier. You add some hip-strengthening exercises suggested in the podcast to your patient’s home exercise protocols. After a couple of weeks, your patient reports significantly less knee pain.
Your physical therapy education doesn’t stop when you get your degree. Your work is a constant learning experience to understand concepts like movement, treatment options and patient care in the real world. Without enriching their training on a regular basis, physical therapists might find it difficult to deliver effective treatment to their patients.
By following the latest developments in the field, you can learn new skills and improve your treatment strategies to better support your patients. The best physical therapy books, podcasts and blogs provide evidence-based knowledge that empowers you to deliver better care to your patients.
Top 6 physical therapy books
From a classic textbook to a curious memoir about working with amputee patients, these physical therapy books will broaden your understanding of essential concepts like anatomy and patient care.
Average rating: 4.1 stars (281 ratings)
Many physical therapy patients are seeking relief from chronic pain, so PTs need to understand its causes. “Explain Pain” provides an overview of how pain works in the human body.
The nerves that sense danger are more sensitive for patients with chronic pain, which triggers a faster pain response in the brain. By understanding how the body responds to chronic pain, you can help patients learn to identify normal and abnormal pain. Patient education can empower your patients to take control of their pain during treatment.
“Trail Guide to the Body: How to Locate Muscles, Bones and More”
Average rating: 4.8 stars (1,468 ratings)
This popular guide to the human body teaches you how to locate landmarks of the anatomy using over 1,000 illustrations of the musculoskeletal system. Andrew Biel’s simple but non-patronizing tone appeals to anyone interested in learning more about anatomy, from physical therapists to runners. For instance, the introduction gives an overview of palpation, including beginner tips such as how to correctly roll or strum a muscle.
What sets this book apart from other anatomy texts is the concept of “bony landmark trails,” which can be used to locate muscles and tendons throughout the body. The accompanying diagrams also feature arrows to guide you in navigating the body’s surface.
“Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain”
Average rating: 4.8 stars (474 ratings)
This classic textbook’s structure is simple but effective. Each chapter covers a specific body region, from the head and face down to the lower extremities. Florence P. Kendall provides unparalleled coverage of manual muscle testing and postural assessments. Kendall also discusses how to evaluate and treat musculoskeletal disorders and other postural conditions.
This comprehensive guide to muscles features hundreds of detailed visual aids, including a first-of-its-kind chart of upper extremity articulations. Many anatomy illustrations are paired with photographs so that readers can see the muscles superficially and internally. This textbook also gives you access to 3D models of the seven body regions with screen layers of ligaments, muscles, arteries, veins, and nerves. You can rotate these images 360 degrees to get a complete view of the anatomy, which can help you identify possible causes of injury or pain.
“Guide to Evidence-Based Physical Therapist Practice”
Average rating: 4.5 stars (132 ratings)
This unique handbook by Dianne Jewell explains the value of an evidence-based approach to physical therapy. With this resource, both students and clinicians can learn how to evaluate research findings and integrate them into their clinical reasoning.
This resource’s reader-friendly style teaches PTs how to understand the methods involved in evidence-based medicine, including data analysis and research design. For instance, the author discusses the importance of sensitivity and specificity in diagnostic tests so readers can learn the limitations of these tools.
“Run, Don't Walk: The Curious and Courageous Life Inside Walter Reed Army Medical Center”
Average rating: 4.7 stars (184 ratings)
In her debut memoir, Adele Levine, PT, shares her experiences working at one of the world’s leading amputee rehabilitation facilities. This book offers an alternative perspective of the treatment process for wounded soldiers and amputees. Amputations and prosthetics can be challenging to work with, so these patients often need a more empathetic approach from their PTs.
The book also highlights how physical therapy can give people a meaningful quality of life after traumatic injuries. Rehabilitation after limb loss is a long, arduous process, so Levine stresses the importance of camaraderie for a successful recovery. Her stories also show readers that having a sense of humor, instead of seeing patients as tragic characters, is invaluable for PTs.
“Pierson and Fairchild’s Principles & Techniques of Patient Care”
Average rating: 4.7 stars (288 ratings)
Although this is a popular textbook for physical therapy programs, its value extends far beyond the classroom. The methods in this book are based on the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). This information provides readers with the most current theories and practice guidelines for patient care.
This text provides easy-to-understand instructions and explanations for proven rehab patient care techniques. Detailed photographs, illustrations, and video clips demonstrate how to correctly perform techniques, so you can gain mastery in essential areas of patient care, like proper lifting and patient transfers.