Ep 33 Chaser – Shirley Sahrmann, PT, PhD, FAPTA


Episode #33 Chaser


In this episode, Jimmy interviews Shirley Sahrmann, world-renowned physical therapist, researcher, movement analysis expert, and creator of the Movement Impairment Syndromes System. Jimmy is enjoying a Bell’s Best Brown Ale while Shirley stays true to her roots, drinking a Busch. Shirley discusses her beginnings in neurobiology, discussing her experience with training monkeys for 19 years while simultaneously recording outputs from the motor cortex. She talks about the evolution of physical therapy, detailing the importance of becoming autonomous practitioners through standardization of treatment as well as exercise as medicine.


Bio: Shirley Sahrmann, PT, PhD, FAPTA


Dr Shirley Sahrmann began her career as a neuro PT for 9 years before pursuing her PhD in neurobiology. She went on to teach Neuroscience and Musculoskeletal Disorders at Washington University in St. Louis where she was a faculty member for 57 years before retiring 2 years ago. Despite retiring, she continues to consult on research projects and travels internationally, lecturing at conferences and teaching continuing education courses on the Movement Impairment Syndromes System.


Shirley is the author of Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impariment Syndromes and Movement System Impairment Syndrome of the Extremities, Cervical, and Thoracic Spines. She is a firm believer in exercise as a side-effect free medication that should be dosed appropriately to a given patient population. Shirley aims to restore physical therapy’s expertise in exercise and put physical therapy at the forefront of movement analysis.


Contact Information

[email protected]

Movement System Impairment Syndromes Courses


Episode #33 Highlights


(2:55) PTs are experts of the movement system and that we need to adopt the identity as experts of movement. Why not talk about that a little bit?


(5:00) If people understood that there was a movement system, and we make a case for how critical it is for everything, and that we have this expertise then that would start to move [physical therapists] outside of this role of therapists who get bored counting to ten. We should be making movement system diagnoses.


(9:05) Shirley talks about how we as physical therapists have lost our expertise in exercise


(14:05) You talked on your start in neuro. You actually trained monkeys and recorded from their motor cortex for 19 years. What was that like?


(17:15) Where is your favorite place in the United States and internationally?

Vale, Colorado and Sydney, Australia


(18:10) Shirley discusses how physical therapists should be lifespan practitioners, performing annual exams. “Never discharge a patient but just end a particular episode of care.”


(21:18) How do we get to [a dental model society] that allows for annual check ups in an American society?


(22:25) Shirley discusses her experiences educating 1st year medical students.


(25:10) Musculoskeletal pain is not a self-limiting condition and [physical therapists] can help modify pain in ways that don’t have side effects.


(26:44) Our contributions to health care can be truly amazing.



#partingdoubleshot – Really learn how to analyze and make sure what you see and what you’re doing meets your own internal criteria.



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