Selective Functional Movement Assessment

The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) is a movement based diagnostic system, designed to clinically assess 7 fundamental movement patterns in those with known musculoskeletal pain. The assessment provides an efficient method to systematically find the cause of symptoms, not just the source, by logically breaking down dysfunctional patterns and diagnosing their root cause as either a mobility problem or a stability/motor control problem.


This systematic process allows clinicians to clearly match their intervention to the main problem of the patient. This model efficiently integrates the concepts of altered motor control, the neuro-developmental perspective, and regional interdependence into musculoskeletal practice. When areas of pain or dysfunction are identified, the clinician can move through ‘tracks’ to identify or locate the specific cause of this problem.

Dysfunctional areas may not always be where the pain is located. On many occasions, the area of pain is the being over worked, and therefore tender. However the area above and below does not function, it does not work as it should, asking more of the painful area. The source of pain, is not always the cause of pain.

With SFMA we look to:

  • Describe the importance of clinically assessing movement patterns before movement components.
  • Understand how the residual effect of pain alters motor control.
  • Efficiently categorise movement patterns as functional/dysfunctional and painful/non-painful.
  • Apply the logic from the SFMA breakouts to systematically diagnose the cause of movement pattern dysfunction as either impaired mobility or impaired motor control.
  • Discuss the motor learning principles that guide the application of therapeutic exercise to restore
    functional movement.
  • Link assessment findings to the initial therapeutic strategy (manual therapy or motor control oriented exercise).

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