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This viewpoint proposes eight anatomy threshold concepts related to physical therapist education, considering both movement system theory and anatomical competence. Movement system theory provides classifications and terminology that succinctly identifies and describes physical therapy practice from a theoretical and philosophical framework. The cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, integumentary, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems are all included within this schema as the movement system theory encompasses all body systems interacting to create movement across the lifespan. Implementing movement system theory requires an ability to use human anatomy in physical therapist education and practice. Understanding the human body is a mandatory prerequisite for effective diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and patient evaluation. Anatomical competence refers to the ability to apply anatomic knowledge within the appropriate professional and clinical contexts. Exploring the required anatomical concepts for competent entry‐level physical therapist education and clinical practice is warranted. The recommended threshold concepts (fluency, dimensionality, adaptability, connectivity, complexity, stability or homeostasis, progression or development, and humanity) could serve as an integral and long‐awaited tool for guiding anatomy educators in physical therapy education.


This is the accepted version of the following article:

Carroll, M.A., McKenzie, A. and Tracy‐Bee, M. (2021), Movement System Theory and Anatomical Competence: Threshold Concepts for Physical Therapist Anatomy Education. Anat Sci Educ., 15: 420-430.

which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Peer Reviewed






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