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College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions

Certificate in Advanced Orthopedic Physical Therapy

 

The 12-credit Certificate in Advanced Orthopedic Physical Therapy provides clinicians with an advanced, clinically relevant orthopedic curriculum emphasizing PT diagnostic skills, manual therapy, exercise, and clinical reasoning. The online and weekend course format allows licensed, practicing therapists to continue their regular employment while enrolled in the program. Students who successfully complete the certificate program are eligible to test for an additional credential as a Certified Orthopaedic Manual Therapist (COMT). 

Quick Facts
  • 12 credits
  • Available as a certificate program or CEU courses
  • Convenient online and weekend classes
  • For licensed, practicing therapists
  • Apply
  • Questions? Contact Brian Swanson, Director, Certificate Program

About the Program

The Certificate in Advanced Orthopedic Physical Therapy is designed for the clinician who wants to improve their clinical practice but may not be able to commit to a full-time residency program. You can complete this 12-credit program in as little as 12 months - or complete it at your own pace (up to 36 months).

  • The program provides an advanced, clinically relevant orthopedic curriculum emphasizing PT diagnostic skills, manual therapy, exercise, and clinical reasoning.

  • Our weekend in-person course format, combined with hybrid online education, is designed to allow clinicians to continue their regular employment while enrolled in the certificate program. We believe that the physical therapist's regular practice setting is ideal for applying content and techniques learned in the program.

  • All courses will be submitted to APTA Connecticut for approval of continuing education units.

Certificate program philosophy

physical therapy students in lab

What makes the University of Hartford certificate program different from other continuing education offerings?

Expert instructors

Built on a solid, evidence-based foundation, all content within the program is taught by true experts in the field. These instructors are not just academics and researchers, but also clinicians with extensive real-world clinical experience.

We offer more than just a few new “toys” or “tools for your toolbox.” As a clinician who wants to provide the best care for your patients, there are not many experiences that are more frustrating than taking a continuing education course and leaving with a handful of techniques, but without the context to apply them successfully. We teach effective, biomechanically and physiologically sound techniques and the clinical reasoning skills to use them successfully.

Evidence-enhanced practice

Content and concepts are based on the principles of EBP, but we do not stop there. We recognize the limitations to practice based on the results of randomized clinical trials or systematic reviews that may not always translate to the patient in front of you at any given moment (n=1). We consider examination findings from a probabilistic approach, since we realize that “clinical prediction rules” aren’t really “rules” at all… they serve to shift the likelihood of success, not guarantee it. We consider treatment determinations utilizing a mechanism-based approach and the interpretation of individually modifiable factors…real-world skills that you can apply in the clinic immediately.

Flexible options

The program offers multiple options for practicing therapists to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Option 1: Certificate in Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy 

  • Complete all 12 courses within 3 years with grades of 80% or better and earn a Certificate in Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy.

Option 2: Individual CEU Courses

  • Enroll in any of the Certificate in Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy courses as a CEU offering at a reduced rate. While you will not participate in the enhanced online content or earn University credit, you will experience the full on-campus lab session and expert instruction in the content areas of interest.
  • If you’re not sure the program is for you, try a CEU course!
    • Up to two CEU courses can be transferred into the Certificate in Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy program.

Option 3: Certified Orthopaedic Manual Therapist (COMT) 

  • The Certificate in Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy program provides graduates with a significant manual therapy skill set, and all students who successfully complete the Certificate program (option #1) are eligible to test for an additional credential as a Certified Orthopaedic Manual Therapist (COMT). The COMT designation indicates that a physical therapist has achieved advanced proficiency in manual therapy and is the result of significant study and rigorous practice. Read more below.

Prerequisites:  Must hold a valid state license to practice physical therapy, successful completion of the Certificate in Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy.

This Certificate in Advanced Orthopaedic Physical Therapy serves as the backbone of the COMT curriculum. The program has a rolling start and you may begin with any of the 12-onsite courses.  All courses must be completed with a grade of 80% or better. Upon successful completion of the required coursework, you are qualified to sit for the COMT examination, currently offered in July each year.

The COMT will consist of three distinct components, which will all occur over the course of a single testing day:

  • A multiple choice examination
  • A “live” video patient exam
  • A practical skills examination

Emphasis of this exam will include the basic principles of OMT, clinical reasoning and decision-making, practitioner safety, and overall skill application.

All individuals who successfully complete the examination will be qualified to assume the professional designation of “Certified Orthopaedic Manual Therapist” (COMT).

Certificate Requirements

The full Certificate in Advanced Orthopedic Physical Therapy consists of 12 one-credit courses. See the section below for course descriptions.

Summer 1 Credits 2021 Dates On-Campus Dates
PT 900 Foundations of Exam/Mechanisms of Manual Therapy, Exercise, and Pain Neuroscience (Online Only) 1* 7/16–8/16 NA
PT 901 Advanced Medical Screening for Orthopaedic Therapists 1 7/16–8/16 8/14
Subtotal 2
Fall Credits 2021 dates On-Campus Dates
PT 902 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Lumbar/SIJ Region 1 8/23–9/20 9/11–9/12
PT 903 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Thoracic Spine 1 9/20–10/18 10/2–10/3
PT 904 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Cervical Spine 1 10/18–11/15 11/6–11/7
PT 905 Advanced Clinical Practice for TMD 1 11/15–12/15 12/11–12/12
Subtotal 4
Winter Term Credits 2022 dates On-Campus Dates
PT 900 Foundations of Exam/Mechanisms of Manual Therapy, Exercise, and Pain Neuroscience (Online Only) 1* 12/26/21–1/15/22 NA
Subtotal 1*
Spring Credits 2022 dates On-Campus Dates
PT 906 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Hip 1 1/18–2/14 2/5–2/6
PT 907 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Knee 1 2/14–3/14 3/5–3/6
PT 908 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Foot/Ankle 1 3/14–4/11 4/9–4/10
PT 909 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Shoulder 1 4/11–5/9 5/7–5/8
Subtotal 4
Summer 2 Credits 2022 dates On-Campus Dates
PT 910 Advanced Clinical Practice for the Elbow/Wrist/Hand 1 5/17–6/17 6/11–6/12
PT 911 Advanced Clinical Practice: Vestibular Rehabilitation for the Orthopaedic Therapist 1 5/28–6/28 6/25–6/26
Subtotal 2
Total Credits 12

*PT 900 is offered in the fall and again in the spring as a dual entry point to the program. Students will only take the course in one of the two semesters.

Course Descriptions

This course covers four distinct areas of orthopedic physical therapy, each with a unique role within the clinical reasoning process. Beginning with the principles of the orthopedic physical examination, subjective, objective, and selective tissue examination principles are covered as necessary for generating a provisional differential diagnosis of dysfunction. The clinical reasoning of the initial examination is reviewed and discussed as a guide to treatment decision making. The science of tissue healing is reviewed for tissues including muscle, ligament, tendon, cartilage, and nerve including the implications for manual therapy and exercise. Current theories on the mechanisms of manual therapy are reviewed as a foundation for clinical decision making. Finally, the principles of pain neuroscience and pain neuroscience education are introduced as part of a blended biopsychosocial model of orthopedic physical therapy practice. This four part course serves as the foundational background for the body-region specific courses throughout the remainder of the certificate program.  

The decision to “treat,” “treat and refer,” or “refer to other healthcare providers” is a complicated and nuanced process, and often a source of uncertainty for the practicing physical therapist. This course is designed to increase the practicing therapist’s knowledge and clinical skills for screening patients for medical conditions, allowing the practicing therapist to more confidently establish the appropriateness of treatment and/or the need for referral. Differential diagnosis is addressed through comparison of systematic signs and symptoms, screening for serious musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal pathologies. Specific emphasis is placed on conditions that may mimic common orthopedic pathologies.

 

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with lumbo-pelvic dysfunction.  An integrated approach utilizing the concepts of Cyriax, Maitland, McKenzie, Kaltenborn, Evjenth, and others, in combination with current evidence based practice as described in the literature, will be utilized to form the foundation of an effective treatment approach. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the entire cervical spine, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include joint mobilization, traction, stabilization exercises, thrust manipulation, and patient education/management strategies.  The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with dysfunctions of the thoracic spine and ribcage.  An integrated approach utilizing the concepts of Cyriax, Maitland, McKenzie, Kaltenborn, Evjenth, and others, in combination with current evidence based practice as described in the literature, will be utilized to form the foundation of an effective treatment approach. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the entire cervical spine, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include joint mobilization, traction, stabilization exercises, thrust manipulation, and patient education/management strategies. The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

 

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with cervical spine dysfunction. An integrated approach utilizing the concepts of Cyriax, Maitland, McKenzie, Kaltenborn, Evjenth, and others, in combination with current evidence based practice as described in the literature, will be utilized to form the foundation of an effective treatment approach. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the entire cervical spine, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include joint mobilization, traction, stabilization exercises, thrust manipulation, and patient education/management strategies. The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with temporomandibular disorders. Background information will be reviewed with respect to common clinical presentations, including epidemiology, anatomy, joint mechanics, pathoanatomy, and pain science. Next, an effective and efficient approach to both the evaluation and management of TMD will be presented. Treatment techniques covered will include manual therapies, exercise interventions, and patient education/management strategies. The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

 

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with dysfunctions of the hip.  An integrated approach utilizing selective tissue tension, joint mobility testing, biomechanics, and functional evaluation will be presented to form the foundation of the treatment model. An overview of current practice evidence and relevant practice applications will be provided. Conservative management and post-operative considerations will be discussed, leading to appropriate rehabilitation strategies for diagnoses such as osteoarthritis, femoral acetabular impingement, adhesive capsulitis, instability, and trochanteric pain syndrome/gluteal tendinopathy. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the entire hip/pelvic girdle, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include manual therapy including specific joint mobilization, exercise, and patient education/management strategies.  The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

 

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with dysfunctions of the knee.  An integrated approach utilizing selective tissue tension, joint mobility testing, biomechanics, and functional evaluation will be presented to form the foundation of the treatment model. An overview of current practice evidence and relevant practice applications will be provided. Conservative management and post-operative considerations will be discussed, leading to appropriate rehabilitation strategies for specific diagnoses including: PFPS, ligamentous injury, meniscal/articular cartilage injury, OA, tendinopathy, and special considerations of the jumping/cutting athlete. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the entire knee complex, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include manual therapy including specific joint mobilization, exercise, and patient education/management strategies.  The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP from a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

 

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with dysfunctions of the foot/ankle complex.  An integrated approach utilizing selective tissue tension, joint mobility testing, biomechanics, and functional evaluation will be presented to form the foundation of the treatment model. An overview of current practice evidence and relevant practice applications will be provided. Conservative management and post-operative considerations will be discussed, leading to appropriate rehabilitation strategies for common conditions including ligamentous injuries, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, hallux valgus, hallux rigidus, posterior tibial tendinopathy, ankle impingement, OA and others. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the foot/ankle complex, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, understand underlying factors, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include manual therapy including specific joint mobilization, exercise, and patient education/management strategies.  The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

 

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with dysfunctions of the shoulder complex.  An integrated approach utilizing selective tissue tension, joint mobility testing, biomechanics, and functional evaluation will be presented to form the foundation of the treatment model. An overview of current practice evidence and relevant practice applications will be provided. Conservative management and post-operative considerations will be discussed, leading to appropriate rehabilitation strategies for specific diagnoses including: impingement/rotator cuff pathology, adhesive capsulitis, tendinopathy, instability, and AC joint pathology, as well as the special considerations of the overhead athlete. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the entire shoulder girdle, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include manual therapy including specific joint mobilization, exercise, and patient education/management strategies.  The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

 

This course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with dysfunctions of the elbow-wrist-hand.  An integrated approach utilizing selective tissue tension, joint mobility testing, biomechanics, and functional evaluation will be presented to form the foundation of the treatment model. An overview of current practice evidence and relevant practice applications will be provided. Conservative management and post-operative considerations will be discussed, leading to appropriate rehabilitation strategies. This course will provide the tools necessary to perform a complete evaluation of the elbow-wrist-hand, diagnose the site/source of dysfunction, and apply specific, targeted interventions safely and effectively. Treatment techniques covered will include manual therapy including specific joint mobilization, exercise, and patient education/management strategies.  The course format includes lecture, extensive lab and demonstration time. Case study will be used to consider examination techniques, manual therapy and exercise while approaching EBP in a patient specific context.

Pre-course materials include a review of anatomy and biomechanics related to OMPT practice and differential diagnosis.

 

This lab and lecture based course will provide the participant current evidence-based examination, advanced intervention skills, and enhanced clinical reasoning for the treatment of patients with vestibular dysfunctions. Assessment techniques and conditions include balance/gait and fall risk assessments, oculomotor examination including identification of nystagmus and canal involvement, and differentiation of vestibular and non-vestibular dizziness, including central disorders and vestibular hypofunction. Treatment techniques will be presented including procedures for BPPV affecting the anterior, posterior, and horizontal canals.  Emphasis will be placed on utilizing effective assessment to lead to an appropriate, effective treatment plan. Case study will be used to consider treatment planning while approaching EBP from a patient specific context.

 

Admission

Applications for the program should be submitted through the Graduate Admission office using the link below. Applicants must be a licensed physical therapist (in any US state) OR have the approval of the program director. Admissions are rolling until the program is filled.

  • Summer/Fall 2021 course registration is available now.
  • Spring 2022 course registration will be coming soon.
  • CEU registration will be coming soon - check back for updates.

If you have questions about the application process, please contect the Graduate Admission office at gradstudy@hartford.edu or call 860.768.4371.

Tuition

Tuition for the Certificate program is billed at the current university rate of $626/per credit.

Tuition for the CEU option is $500 per course for all courses with two-day labs (PT 902-911). 

Program Contacts

Brian Swanson, PT, DSc, OCS, FAAOMPT
Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy
University of Hartford
860.768.5314
bswanson@hartford.edu 

Graduate Admission Office
860.768.4371
GradStudy@hartford.edu

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