SFMA Certification Course                                       Selective Functional Movement Assessment

Physical Therapy Continuing Education Course Description:

The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) certification course is designed for the healthcare professional that routinely treats patients with musculoskeletal conditions across the lifespan. Maintaining or restoring precise movement of specific segments is the key to preventing or correcting musculoskeletal dysfunction. In 2013, the APTA adopted a new vision statement for the profession: “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.”  Movement is a key to optimal living and quality of life for all people that extends beyond health to every person’s ability to participate in and contribute to society. While this is APTA’s vision for the physical therapy profession, it is meant also to inspire other healthcare providers to, together, create systems that optimize movement and function for all people. Recognition and validation of the movement system is essential to understand the structure, function, and potential of the human body. The physical therapist will be responsible for evaluating and managing an individual’s movement system across the lifespan to promote optimal development; diagnose impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions; and provide interventions targeted at preventing or ameliorating activity limitations and participation restrictions. The movement system is the core of physical therapist practice, education, and research.

Normal movement is achieved through an adequate balance of mobility and stability to meet the demands of the task at hand. The human system migrates toward predictable patterns of movement in response to injury or in the presence of weakness, tightness, or structural abnormality. An isolated or regional approach to evaluation and treatment will not restore complete function. When the clinical assessment is initiated from the perspective of a movement pattern, the clinician has the opportunity to identify meaningful impairments that may be seemingly unrelated to the main musculoskeletal complaint, but contributes to the associated disability. Functional restoration requires a map of dysfunctional patterns and a working knowledge of functional patterns in order to gain clinical perspective and design effective interventions. The SFMA approach is based on the premise that pain and dysfunction occur as a result of impaired patterns of movement. Specific musculoskeletal dysfunction is considered the consequence rather than the cause of faulty movement patterns. Emphasis is placed upon identifying the root cause of the dysfunction rather than source of the symptoms. Therefore, the SFMA assessment guides the clinician to the most dysfunctional non-painful movement pattern, which is then assessed in detail. By addressing the most dysfunctional non-painful pattern, the application of targeted interventions (manual therapy and therapeutic exercise) is not adversely affected by pain.

The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) offers healthcare providers a new approach to the treatment of pain and dysfunction. Once Clinical Predictive Rules and diagnosis-specific techniques are exhausted, applying the SFMA model will allow for individualized exercise prescription and progression, which encompasses the concept of regional interdependence. As musculoskeletal system experts, it is essential that healthcare providers understand the relationships between body segments and how impairments in one body region may adversely affect function of another body region. Approaching therapeutic exercise prescription from a movement perspective model allows the concepts of muscle imbalance and regional interdependence to be addressed in a logical, methodical manner. Our standardized clinical model ensures isolating the cause of injury and efficient care.

The goal of this SFMA certification course is to provide a standardized algorithmic system to identify impaired patterns of functional movement. The SFMA approach is designed to complement the existing exam and serve as a model to efficiently integrate the concepts of posture, muscle balance, and the fundamental patterns of movement into musculoskeletal practice. The examination consists of observing functional movement patterns and testing muscle length and strength in relationship to those movement patterns. The SFMA is a comprehensive movement assessment used to categorize movement patterns and link the assessment information to the initial therapeutic exercise strategy. The examination process then drives therapeutic intervention selection.

This course will cover the background, philosophy and evidence related to movement testing and regional interdependence in a lecture format. Then participants will enjoy a demonstration and laboratory sessions covering the full body movement tests and corrective exercise strategies of the SFMA. Participants will be taught the assessment criteria and ample lab time will be given to ensure the participants are comfortable integrating the tests immediately into their clinical practice. All of the information provided is practical, useful, logical, and can be incorporated into clinical practice immediately.


Following the completion of this SFMA certification course, the healthcare provider will be able to:

  • Accurately describe the importance of identifying dysfunctional movement patterns without referring to notes in patients/clients with functional limitations.
  • Accurately describe and competently demonstrate the seven basic evaluation components of the base SFMA examination on a patient model in less than 3 minutes.
  • Independently explain the role of pain provocation during the examination process and list two ways in which pain alters motor control.
  • Correctly identify typical movement pattern dysfunctions within a reasonable amount of time through the use of video case examples.
  • Independently and competently perform a complete SFMA evaluation and all portions of the breakouts derived from the base tests in no more than 20 minutes.
  • Independently analyze the information gained from the SFMA base screen and breakouts on a model patient to correctly identify the key impairments in order to establish a diagnosis.
  • Design a rehabilitation intervention program based upon the video case SFMA key findings and list three appropriate exercises that will assist in normalizing the dysfunctional movement.
  • Link the SFMA information to the initial therapeutic exercise strategy in order to formulate, describe, and defend the use of the most appropriate treatment interventions (manual therapy and functional exercise) into the traditional rehabilitation program to normalize dysfunctional movement.
  • Justify the use of three acceptable manual therapy techniques to incorporate into a treatment program given a case with a mobility limitation.
  •  Evaluate the intervention effectiveness by monitoring the initial changes in the case dysfunction and impairment as seen on the SFMA re-evaluation in order to guide the therapeutic exercise progression.



  • Principles And Concepts of Dysfunctional Movement Impairments
  • SFMA Introduction: The Base Screen
    • Integrating movement theory with practice (lecture-lab)
    • Isolating Dysfunction With The SFMA
  • Cervical Dysfunction Assessment (demonstration of breakout principles)
  • Exercise Program – Progression Design: (Lecture/Lab/Participant Interaction)
    • Developing a rehab program based on the SFMA
      • Linking the results to exercise.
    • Corrective exercise selection based on the SFMA results
  • Question and Answers Session

12:30-01:30 – LUNCH


  • SFMA Break-Out Assessments with Corrections (Lecture-Demonstration-Lab-Participant Interaction)
    • Multi-Segmental Flexion Assessment
    • Multi-Segmental Extension
      • Spine Extension
      • Upper Body Extension
      • Lower Body Extension

·       Question and Answer Session (Open practice time)



  • SFMA Break-Out Assessments with Corrections (Lecture-Demonstration-Lab-Participant Interaction)
    • Multi-segmental Rotation
      • Spine Rotation
      • Spine Rolling
      • Hip Rotation
      • Tibia Rotation
    • Overhead Deep Squat
    • Single Leg Stance
  • Question and Answer Session

12:30-01:30 – LUNCH


  • Review of the SFMA – Putting it all together
    • Case study presentations – small group discussion with instructors
  • Where do we go from here?
    • The Functional Movement Screen – An Overview
    • Optional Assessments to increase the sensitivity of your evaluation
  • Question and Answer – Case Study Session

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