Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

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28.9 Adolescent Spine Monograph


The monograph discusses pertinent topics in adolescent spine and sports rehabilitation. This includes imaging considerations, triage and evaluation, injury classification, and treatment progression. The authors also address specific topics related to sports medical management, psychosocial considerations, and unique adolescent conditions. Referral considerations are also covered. Stages of recovery are integrated with clinical decision-making to direct specific patient-related care from acute rehabilitation to return to sport. Three case studies are presented with athletes of various sports. Each case highlights the use of evidence guided examination, injury classification, and care. The first case involves a 16-year-old female field hockey player who presents with a primary complaint of sharp right-sided low back pain. The second case is a 13-year-old level 10 artistic gymnast evaluated for low back pain after a gradual onset of symptoms 4 weeks prior after a ring leap during her floor routine. The third case is a 14-year-old male soccer player who suffers low back pain that started 6 weeks prior to entering the clinic.

This monograph is a comprehensive resource for identifying and treating the causes of adolescent low back pain. The authors guide the reader from understanding the unique aspects of dealing with adolescents and spine injury, detailing recognition of common injury, classifying best plan of care, benchmarking outcomes, and then how to progress patients with a plan to return to play. Inevitably, by the end of this independent study the reader should be able to apply the concepts of physical therapy care to prepare a treatment program for an adolescent athlete, beginning with simple, early stage exercises to progressing all the way to advanced, sport-specific movements for return to play.

  1. Understand the prevalence of back pain in the adolescent and specific considerations for the athletic population.
  2. Develop an understanding of evidence-based management of adolescents with low back pain and when imaging is indicated.
  3. Identify and discuss the appropriate imaging modality for each common adolescent low back pathology.
  4. Understand the components of the screening process of an evaluation and recognize the need for referral as necessary.
  5. Determine the appropriateness for physical therapy evaluation and treatment for an adolescent patient with back pain.
  6. Identify and appropriately use common spine outcome measures for the adolescent population.
  7. Identify the appropriate treatment interventions for the immobilized injured athlete.
  8. Understand the classification scheme used to direct specific patient-related care and identify specific treatment interventions related to classification.
  9. Identify the stages of recovery in the injured athlete.
  10. Use an evidence-based spine examination for the injured athlete.
  11. Identify the benefit of muscle strengthening, including electrical stimulation as an adjunct to traditional strengthening programming.
  12. Understand the concepts of exercise progression to prepare a treatment program for an adolescent athlete, beginning with simple, early stage exercises progressing to advanced, sport-specific movements with a focus on good form and awareness for self-correction.
  13. Identify psychological components of the rehabilitation process for the injured athlete and the role of the physical therapist.
  14. Identify the role of physical therapy in adolescent specific spinal conditions.

  • Adolescent Spine
    Anthony Carroll, PT, DPT, CSCS, OCS, FAAOMPT; Melissa Dreger, PT, DPT, OCS; Patrick O’Rourke, PT, DPT, OCS; Tara Jo Manal, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, FAPTA
Registrant Number of
Price (USD):
Online Only
Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Member One (1) $50
Non-Academy Member One (1) $50


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No refunds will be given after online receipt of materials or receiving the print copy.

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