To optimise the benefits from the passive movements and passive therapeutic exercises, more experimental evidence needs to be gathered in order to better understand things like specific tissue effects and physiological mechanims of action involved (Frank et al. 1987).
A clinical approach utilizing skilled, specific hands-on techniques, including but not limited to manipulation and mobilization, used by the physical therapist to diagnose and treat soft tissues and joint structures for the purpose of modulating pain; increasing range of motion (ROM); reducing or eliminating soft tissue inflammation; inducing relaxation; improving contractile and non-contractile tissue repair, extensibility, and/or stability; facilitating movement; and improving function (AAOMPT, 1999).
Some recent research has demonstrated significantly better outcomes for patients who used manual therapy in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as exercise and proprioception training, than when manual therapy was used alone (Jull et al. 2002).
Within manual therapy, the administration of passive movements is generally denoted by the term "mobilization". The APTA (American Physical Therapy Association), and the AAOMPT (American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy) define mobilization as
a manual therapy technique comprised of a continuum of skilled passive movements to joints and/or related soft tissues that are applied a ...