Astym® therapy improves FOTO® outcomes for patients with musculoskeletal disorders: an observational study

Leah S. Harris, Suzanne Freeman, Ying-Chih Wang


Background: Current healthcare providers function in an environment where there is increased emphasis on value-based models of reimbursement; therefore, the delivery of better patient outcomes is critical. Consequently, it is necessary to identify successful treatments that improve outcomes and can be applied across a broad range of clinic settings, treatment styles and therapist expertise.
Methods: Data from 2,450 patients who received Astym therapy as component of their outpatient rehabilitation (treatment group) was matched to data from 2,450 randomly chosen patients with similar orthopedic impairments who did not receive Astym therapy during their rehabilitation (control group). Data was collected across 116 clinics in 17 U.S. states. All patients completed a standardized functional status survey at admission and at discharge. The effectiveness (discharge functional status score), efficiency (number of treatment visits, treatment duration) and utilization (unit of functional improvement per visit) was compared across two groups. Ethics approval was not required for this study as this is an observational study, with both sets of participants receiving actual (not placebo) treatment.
Results: Compared to the control sample, patients who received Astym therapy as part of their rehabilitation had higher discharge functional status (FS) scores (68.5 vs. 64.5, F1,4897 =53.1, P<0.001) and had more functional improvement per visit noted with a higher utilization index (2.0 vs. 1.9, ANCOVA F1,4897 =5.5, P=0.019), and after risk adjustment, had the same number of visits. There was no difference in duration of treatment episode across groups (Astym, 47.8±31.1 days; control, 47.5±30.0 days) (ANCOVA F1,4897 =1.7, P=0.199).
Conclusions: Patients with musculoskeletal disorders who received Astym therapy as part of the treatment process experienced increased treatment effectiveness as compared to those who did not receive Astym therapy. The addition of Astym therapy improved physical therapy outcomes for patients across a broad range of treatment styles, clinical settings and therapist expertise.