Course Objectives

Each course module has speific objectives to complete. Scroll below to see what each objective will cover.


  • Discuss the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., position on physical agent modality use and educational preparation
  • Identify your state’s regulatory agencies which govern the use of physical agents by occupational therapy practitioners and read the rules and regulations

Superficial Anatomy

  • Define the normal anatomy of the skin
  • Describe the somatosensory system
  • List the function of normal skin
  • Detail the affects of aging on the sensory system

Wound Healing

  • Classify types of soft tissue injuries
  • Address the three phases of repair (inflammation, proliferation, and maturation)
  • Discuss the cellular processes occurring in each phase
  • Review appropriate intervention methods based on research findings
  • Describe complications that interfere with normal healing

Pain Theory and Perception

  • Define the type or category of pain
  • Describe primary causes of the pain
  • List the factors that contribute to pain
  • Discuss assessment and intervention strategies available for the pain conditions
  • Describe other medical or psychosocial conditions which should influence the choice of treatment of pain conditions


  • List the biophysical and biophysiological changes which occur with Cryotherapy
  • Identify the indications, contraindications and precautions for the application of cold agents
  • Demonstrate the clinical reasoning involved in the application of cold agents
  • Identify commonly used types of cold agents
  • Describe the application procedures for each cold modality presented in this module
  • Discuss appropriate patient education procedures for safe application of cryotherapy agents
  • Discuss essential elements of documentation for cryotherapy agents

Superficial Heat Agents

  • Define the term superficial thermal agent
  • Differentiate between the two commonly used methods of heat transfer: conduction and convection
  • Discuss the four biophysical effects of heat
  • Describe the physiologic response to tissue secondary to temperature elevation
  • Differentiate between mild, moderate and vigorous dosages of heat
  • List indications, precautions, and contraindications that should be considered when using superficial thermal agents
  • Describe the proper clinical applications for hot packs, paraffin bath, fluidotherapy, light, whirlpool, and contrast bath
  • Discuss appropriate patient education procedures for safe application of superficial thermal agents
  • Discuss essential elements of documentation for superficial thermal agents

Deep Heat Modalities

  • Discuss the theory and rationale for the application of therapeutic deep thermal modalities (such as ultrasound, low level laser therapy [LLLT], diathermy, and phonophoresis)
  • Outline and differentiate between the parameters for therapeutic ultrasound
  • Outline current research trends in the utilization of deep thermal modalities
  • Demonstrate clinical decision making in the determination of the appropriate treatment parameters for deep thermal modalities
  • Discuss the clinical procedures for the application of deep thermal modalities
  • Present guidelines for the safe use of deep thermal modalities stating contraindications and precautions for treatment
  • Discuss appropriate patient education procedures for safe application of deep thermal agents. discuss essential elements of documentation for deep thermal agents

Principles of Electrotherapy

  • Identify the relationship between technical terminology and sensory responses
  • Describe the biophysical and biophysiological changes associated with electrotherapy
  • Discuss the available parameters of electrical stimulation devices\describe the principles and concepts of electricity
  • Identify the physiological effects of electrical stimulation using alternating current, direct current, and pulsatile current


  • Define the therapeutic goals of electrical therapy
  • Identify the physiological events associated with electrical stimulation
  • Define the distinguishing characteristic and indications and contraindications of electrical stimulation
  • Distinguish the physiological effects of various parameters of electrical stimulation (voltage, type, dosage, duty cycle, etc.)
  • Discuss the therapeutic relationship of electrotherapy with other therapeutic procedures
  • Discuss appropriate patient education procedures for safe application of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
  • Discuss essential elements of documentation for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation


  • Describe the clinical application of electrical stimulation in rehabilitation
  • Outline and discuss the clinical reasoning process used to determine selection of NMES and appropriate parameters
  • Describe the intervention parameters of therapeutic electrical currents for re-education, strengthening, spasticity reduction, FES, etc
  • Identify the biophysiological responses to electrical currents for alternating and direct current modalities
  • Discuss the indications and contraindications for NMES use
  • Identify appropriate electrode placement for various intervention protocols
  • Discuss appropriate patient education procedures for safe application of neuromuscular electrical stimulation
  • Discuss essential elements of documentation for neuromuscular electrical stimulation


  • Describe the clinical applications for iontophoresis
  • Discuss the biophysiology and mechanism related to transdermal delivery of medication
  • Identify common medications used in iontophoresis and their pharmacological characteristics
  • Outline clinical decision making regarding iontophoresis, indications and precautions
  • Discuss appropriate patient education procedures for safe application of iontophoresis
  • Discuss essential elements of documentation for iontophoresis


  • Discuss the following processes in pharmacokinetics: absorption, distribution, and metabolism
  • Explain the processes of pharmacodynamics and pharmacotherapeutics as it pertains to routine drugs used in Phonophoresis and Iontophoresis
  • Discuss the effects of physical agents, exercise, and manual techniques on pharmacokinetics
  • Discuss the aging process as it relates to pharmacokinetics