Testing Force

Practical Force Testing for the Rehab Professional:
Force Plates and Isokinetic Machines

Intended Audience:

Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, Athletic Trainers, and related professions/students of those fields


As more attention is being drawn to the ability of athletes returning from injury to hide their newfound deficits, the ability to acquire and evaluate force profiles is becoming increasingly important. High tech tools like force plates and electromechanical dynamometers (“isokinetic machines”) are becoming more commonplace but the learning curve can be steep. Many rehab professionals are forced to “learn as you go” on these devices and end up trying to apply testing that is more appropriate for performance measures than they are for the rehab process. This can be overwhelming for the provider often getting overly concerned about normal variations while missing more important issues.

This two-day course will include lecture and lab demonstration to explore the role of these devices in the rehab setting. Underlying principles of force and how these devices measure force expression will help the rehab professional to understand what different tests are actually measuring. The course will keep focusing on the question “What exactly are you trying to measure?” and allow the participant to develop their own unique test selection for each individual athlete they are working with.

This complex content will be presented in a way that is simple to understand and even simpler to implement by focusing on key concepts in a hierarchical format. This course will focus on practical application giving significant time for participants to practice on the devices themselves. Enrollment is limited in order to assure access to instructors and equipment.


Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Give a basic description of dynamical systems and how that applies to rehabilitation
  • Describe underlying principles around force such as impulse, peak force, and rate of force development
  • Explain key considerations when setting up any force assessment to assure you are measuring what you want to measure
  • Perform basic test design on an electromechanical dynamometer (“Isokinetic machine”) and force plates
  • Prioritize primary goals of postoperative rehabilitation to maximize return to sport function
  • Develop a testing plan for an individual athlete during rehab


Day 1

09:00 - 10:00

Introduction/Current applications

10:00 - 10:45

Understanding human movement as a dynamical system

10:45 - 11:00


11:00 - 11:45

Understanding force

11:45 - 12:30

Foundations of testing

12:30 - 13:00

Lunch (provided)

13:00 - 14:30

Electromechanical dynamometers (Isokinetic machines)

14:30 - 15:00

When to break out your HHD

15:00 - 15:15


15:15 - 16:30

Force plates

16:30 - 17:30

Applied cases

Day 2

09:00 - 10:30

Practical exploration of ED/HHD/force plate use (Lab/Live Demonstration)

10:30 - 10:45


10:45 - 12:15

Practical exploration of ED/HHD/force plate use - continued (Lab/Live Demonstration)

12:15 - 12:45

Tying it all together/Conclusion


Erik Meira

Erik Meira, PT, DPT is currently the director of the Physical Therapy Science Communication Group based out of Portland, OR, USA, a company that specializes in sports rehabilitation and education, and is a clinical advisor to the University of Portland NCAA Division I program. He is an ABPTS Board Certified Sports Clinical Specialist and an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with extensive experience in the management of sports injuries at many different levels. He is a frequent consultant for organizations within the NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLS, WNSL, and other elite sports leagues.

Dr. Meira has authored several articles and textbook chapters and lectures internationally in small private team settings all the way through being the keynote speaker at large professional conferences. Known for his ability to make complex ideas simple to understand with a humorous delivery style, he covers topics such as the hip, knee, exercise prescription, returning athletes to sport, science application, applied biomechanics, and PT practice models. Previously he was the founder and the original chair of the Hip Special Interest Group of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy (AASPT), served as their APTA Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) Program Chair, and was a member of the AASPT Executive Committee. He is also the co-host of PT Inquest, a podcast dedicated to understanding physical therapy science and provides continuing education through The Science PT.

Laura Opstedal

Laura Opstedal, PT, DPT is the owner of Build Physio & Performance in Bozeman, MT, USA, a clinic that is focused on returning athletes to sport. She began her physical therapy career in 2001 after graduating from University of Puget Sound in her hometown of Tacoma, WA, and is dual board certified in Orthopedics & Sports. She is also a Level 2 Coach via USA Weightlifting. Laura has extensive expertise in sports injuries, predominately ACL and knee injuries. Her 20-year career has provided many opportunities for unusual cases, complex cases, surgical revisions and really anything one can think of. She has worked with novice, recreational, high school, division 1, elite and professional athletes.

Laura has cultivated a welcoming environment at Build Physio & Performance to exceed the needs and expectations of our community. As a huge proponent of mental health, she views injuries beyond the “tissue” level. Her experience has led her to manage the person as a whole, and not the injury (lessons learned working with children!). She empowers her patients through sharing knowledge and intervenes as little as possible– this is largely the difference between “doing physical therapy” and “being a physical therapist”. Laura believes in evidence-based medicine and avoidance of interventions with limited efficacy. Her undergraduate degrees in biology and math, also from Puget Sound, inspired her respect of scientific process and criticism of cause / effect. “Test, don’t guess” is the driving force behind the many tools she has in the clinic. She believes this best practice creates transparency in documenting progress, motivating her patients, and questioning her chosen interventions.

Contact Hours 11/CEU 1.1

This course meets the standards for 11 hours of continuing education by most state physical therapy boards. Please contact your state board for details on their specific requirements.

The Science PT (BOC AP#: P3211) is approved by the Board of Certification, Inc. to provide continuing education to Athletic Trainers. This program is eligible for a maximum of 11 Category A hours/CEUs. ATs should claim only those hours actually spent in the educational program.

Terms & Conditions/Refund Policy

By registering for this course you agree to the Terms & Conditions including the refund policy.