Online Physical Therapy Courses

Course Instructor

Dr. Chris Durall, PT, DPT, SCS, LAT, CSCS is the director of the Student Health Center Physical Therapy Department and a graduate faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, where he teaches in several physical therapy courses including Spine Orthopedics. Prior to assuming the directorship at UW-LaCrosse, Dr. Durall was an assistant professor in the physical therapy department at Creighton University. During his appointment at Creighton, Dr. Durall received three consecutive Educator of the Year awards. A practicing outpatient orthopedic/sports clinician since 1993, Dr. Durall earned baccalaureate and advanced masters degrees in physical therapy from UW-LaCrosse, and a Doctorate in physical therapy from Creighton University. He is a graduate of the year-long Gundersen-Lutheran Sports Physical Therapy Residency program, a board-certified sports physical therapist, a licensed athletic trainer, and has been a certified strength and conditioning specialist since 1997. Dr. Durall has authored and co-authored numerous textbook chapters and published articles in PT Magazine, Physiotherapy, the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy, the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Isokinetics and Exercise Science, the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, and the Strength and Conditioning Journal.

Advances in the Clinical Evaluation and Treatment of Cervical and Upper Thoracic Spine Disorders


This advanced level seminar is designed to help clinicians achieve superior outcomes when treating patients with cervical spine and upper thoracic spine disorders. The best current evidence is incorporated throughout the course to help participants diagnose and manage cervical spine disorders with greater confidence and cutting-edge proficiency. Cervical spine functional anatomy, mechanics and pathomechanics are reviewed as a foundation for evidence-based practice. Considerable time is devoted to refining and improving the clinicians ability to examine vascular, articular, and peripheral nerve integrity; segmental motion and pain provocation, and muscle performance. Disorders affecting the connective, muscular and nervous tissues of the cervical spine are reviewed. Differential diagnoses discussed include cervicogenic headache, derangement, hypomobility, hypermobility, postural syndrome and sprain/strain. Consideration is also given to the role of the lumbopelvic and thoracic spine in cervical spine disorders. Current classification schemes and a novel algorithm are presented to help guide intervention planning. Considerable lab time is devoted to learning thoracic spine manipulative and mobilization techniques in addition to cervical spine and 1st rib mobilizations. Numerous treatment approaches and recent advances in spine research are integrated to provide the clinician with a diverse array of options to help optimize biomechanical function and functional ability. Special rehabilitation considerations pertaining to cervicogenic headaches, acceleration injuries and cervical spine orthopedic operative procedures are discussed. This course is intended to facilitate immediate and confident clinical application and hands-on lab time is liberally incorporated during the course to promote deep learning.

Category: Cervical spine and upper thoracic spine disorders, physical therapy continuing education course, occupational therapy continuing education course

Professional Attendance: This continuing medical education course is applicable for physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists and athletic trainers.


  • Describe the functional anatomy, mechanics, and pathomechanics of the upper cervical spine region, lower cervical spine region, and the upper thoracic spine.
  • Explain the etiology of common cervical spine disorders.
  • Identify signs and symptoms that warrant immediate referral to another healthcare provider.
  • Recognize behaviors that are associated with an increased risk of long-term disability.
  • Select appropriate tests and measures based on the patient interview.
  • Perform a thorough and systematic examination of the cervical and upper thoracic spine region.
  • Assess for occipito-atlantal and atlanto-axial instability and vertebral-basilar artery insufficiency.
  • Classify cervical spine disorders, based on examination findings, for purposes of care planning and intervention decision-making.
  • Integrate evidence from literature on the cervical spine with clinical experience.
  • Formulate a safe and efficacious postoperative rehabilitation program.
  • Perform manipulative and mobilization techniques to the thoracic spine, 1st rib and cervical spine.
  • Competently utilize therapeutic exercise to treat cervical and upper thoracic spine disorders.
  • Choose and incorporate appropriate physical agents into the treatment of patients with disorders of the cervical and upper thoracic spine.
  • Effectively manage patients with cervicogenic headaches and acceleration injuries.

  • Course Brochures are in Adobe PDF format. Right click and choose -Save Target- As to download brochure. If you would like to open the brochure in your browser windows, select the link.

    Advances in the Clinical Evaluation and Treatment of Cervical and Upper Thoracic Spine Disorders





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