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Foundations of Orthopedic Assessment

What You Will Learn

  • Understand what orthopedic assessment is and why it is clinically relevant

  • Learn how to take detailed and legal SOAP notes

  • What questions to ask and why we ask them

  • Understand the basics of postural assessment and gait assessment

Course Description

Join Dr. Jess Reynolds, Lead Instructor of Orthopedic Assessment (OA) at some of Western Canada's largest massage therapy and acupuncture colleges, as he speaks about the indispensable skill of OA. This course will take students, step by step, through the theoretical process of assessing a client, beginning as soon as the client walks through the clinic door. 

Students will be guided through the inquiry and history taking process, which includes not only the proper questions to ask but a detailed description of why to ask them and how to ask them in such a way to build rapport and gather information quickly. Students will learn the basic skills of observation, postural assessment and gait. An entire section is devoted to the theory of assessing movement and when and why to use special tests. 

Students will learn how to use palpation as a viable means of assessment and about the concepts of tissue dysfunction.   They will be taught about the different tissues of the body and how each tissue can become dysfunctional. Students will learn how to apply the concepts learned in previous chapters in a clinical setting. 

Unfortunately, many RMTs fail to complete a detailed assessment, typically due to time constraints and client expectations. With that in mind, students will be guided to focus on key questions to assure that even with limited time, they are still able to collect the most important information from their clients allowing them to rule out contraindications and perform massage safely and effectively. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course students will:

  • Know the history of orthopedic assessment
  • Understand what orthopedic assessment is and why it is clinically relevant
  • Have an understanding of the concept of clinical reasoning
  • How to perform a clinical assessment using the HOMS-P method
  • Learn how to take detailed and legal SOAP notes
  • Understand how to create a consent form, and the difference between a consent form and waiver
  • How to ask quality questions and build rapport while doing so
  • What questions to ask and why we ask them
  • A detailed understanding of what boundaries are, how to maintain them, and dual relationships
  • Understand the basics of postural assessment and gait assessment
  • How to identify pain behaviours
  • How to use movement to assess dysfunction based on the principles presented by Dr. James Cyriax in the selective tissue tension model
  • Understand the theory of active, passive and resisted testing (note there is no practical instruction on specific testing techniques in this course)
  • Learn the difference between contractile and inert tissue
  • Know what special tests are and why we perform them
  • How to use palpation as an assessment tool
  • Understand how tissues become dysfunctional
  • How to use the HOMS-P method for each of the specific tissue dysfunctions


This course has been pre-approved for Continuing Education Credits/Units by the following Registered Massage Therapy Associations in Alberta, Canada:

  • CRMTA – 6 
  • NHPC – 5
  • MTAA – 3
  • CMMOTA – 3

If your association is not listed above, we cannot guarantee that the course will be recognized for Continuing Education Credits/Units. Please contact your association directly prior to purchasing the course to see how many credits/units, if any, will be awarded based on a 6 hour online-delivery format and using the information provided in the Course Description. If your professional association requires more information, please contact For more information on the Continuing Education Credits/Units approval process, click here.

Please note that this course teaches the theoretical foundations of OA, and does not include instruction on specific hands-on techniques or tests. If students would like to learn hands-on, practical skills in OA (such as how to use APR-ROM and special tests), they should check our courses page for additional offerings.

Certificate of Completion

Upon completion of this course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion which states that you have completed 6 hours of online training

Course curriculum

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
    • Observation

    • Contours, Colours, Scars and Crepitus

    • Overt Pain Behaviors and General Demeanor

    • Gait

    • Gait Examples

    • Observation Quiz

  4. 4
    • Types of Soft Tissues

    • Guidelines for Assessing Movement

    • Active Range of Motion

    • Passive Range of Motion

    • Resisted Range of Motion

    • Introduction to Functional Assessment

    • Special tests and Timing

    • Movement and Special Tests Quiz

  5. 5
  6. 6
    • Tissue Dysfunctions

    • Muscular Dysfunction Part 1

    • Muscular Dysfunction Part 2

    • Tendon Dysfunction

    • Ligaments Dysfunction

    • Neurological Dysfunction

    • Fascial Dysfunction

    • Capsular Dysfunction

    • Joint Dysfunction

    • Tissue Dysfunction Quiz

  7. 7
    • Conclusion

    • One Last Thing



Dr. Jess Reynolds

Hey! My name is Dr. Jess Reynolds (but I mostly go by Jess). I am a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Integrative Medicine, an Acupuncturist and Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). My practice has been tremendously gratifying, and through it I have had the opportunity to work with many people — helping them heal, body mind and spirit. Through my practice, I soon discovered my true passion: teaching. I have been teaching in the classroom for the last seven years, and have been told by students and colleagues alike that it is my purpose. The focus of my lectures has been Psychology, Personal Growth, Nutrition, Orthopaedic Assessment and Functional Medicine. My passion, however, is in self-development of any kind. I am a true believer in becoming the best version of yourself. Between my clinical practice and teaching experience, I have gained a wealth of knowledge in the world of health and wellness, but I offer more than that. I am an avid outdoorsman, adventure lover, and seeker of truth. I use skills and knowledge from many fields of study and interest to provide my students with unique, down to earth, and always informative lectures. Topics of interest: fascia, orthopaedic assessment, polyvagal theory, self-development

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