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Physical Therapy Guide

Welcome to the Physical Therapy Guide.

Audience: CUW undergraduate and MPT graduate students in PT courses.

Help Available: If you need help, please contact librarians with Ask a Librarian or on the Library Tab in the Portal (phone, email, chat)

How to Use: Click a tab for more information.

Evidence Based Practice Guide

Finding Primary Research Articles

Use these search techniques to locate primary research articles inside databases.

  1. Add the following row of keywords to your search: (methods AND results) OR methodology OR “research” OR “study”. You will want to copy and paste this entire row of keywords into its own search box (see first example below).

Important! From your list of results, you will still need to examine each article to see if it is primary research.

  1. Filter by Document Type: on the Advanced Search page choose Case Study or Research under Document Type or Publication Type. In ProQuest databases, it looks like this:

ProQuest advanced search document type: case study

All of these results are generally primary research articles, but not all primary research is a case study, so you will likely be missing some primary research articles on your topic by searching this way.

  1. In Ebscohost databases, you can choose 
    “Research” under Publication Type.

 Publication type box research selected

4. If you get a lot of results, consider limiting by Special interest to: Physical Therapy.

See the Health Science Tools(PDF) Guide for any easy reference Chart on the features of different Databases

Healthcare Specific

CINAHL Complete (EBSCOhost) indexing for journals, and provides additional nursing and allied health research material including health care books, select conference proceedings, evidence-based care sheet and quick lesson disease overviews.

ClinicalKey (Elsevier) All of Elsevier’s medical and surgical content in one resource, including books, journals, videos, and images.

The Cochrane Library (EBSCOhost) Contains three databases. The Database of Systematic Reviews contains full text articles, as well as protocols focusing on the effects of healthcare. Data is evidence-based medicine and is often combined statistically (with meta-analysis) to increase the power of the findings of numerous studies. The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials is a bibliography of controlled trials  to create an unbiased source of data for systematic reviews. Cochrane Clinical Answers contains a clinical question, a short answer, and an opportunity to ‘drill down’ to the evidence from relevant Cochrane reviews.

DynaMed Plus (EBSCOhost) clinical reference tool which provides fast, easy access to the latest evidence-based informationDynaMed includes clinically-organized summaries for thousands of topics Features include: Use of a strict, evidence-based editorial process, One-click access to full-text articles, Practice-changing updates, targeted Medline searching and more.

McGraw-Hill Medical Databases – search AccessEmergencyMedicine, AccessPediatrics and AccessSurgery in one integrated search to find the following:

  • Patient Education
  • Extensive Multimedia Library—A unique collection of examination and procedural videos & animations,
  • Multiple Quick Reference Tools— a collection of concise evidence-based outlines of conditions and disorders most often encountered in medical practice
  • Self-Assessment—Extensive Q&A from leading references

MEDLINE Complete (EBSCOhost) Pubmed companion of biomedical and health journals. Topics: biomedicine, pre-clinical sciences, behavioral sciences, bioengineering, health policy development, nursing, and life sciences. It is an essential resource for health professionals and researchers. Content Includes: full-text journals, and MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) for current biomedical journals.

Proquest Health & Medicine Databases Search all of Proquest’s health and medicine databases at the same time.

PubMed (National Library of Medicine) FREE access to over 11 million MEDLINE® citations. Mid-1960’s-present.

PUBMED Basic Search Tutorial

Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition (EBSCOhost-provided by Badgerlink) – Provides scholarly full text journals focusing on many medical disciplines.

Nursing & Allied Health Database (ProQuest) Provides users with reliable healthcare information covering nursing, allied health, alternative and complementary medicine, and much more. Includes full-text titles plus dissertations in nursing and related fields. Training videos from Medcom, Inc on health care safety, emergency planning, checking vital signs and many more. Multicultural reports from CultureVision are available for 30 ethnicities and 11 religions for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with respect to their beliefs and practices.

Nursing & Health Professions Premier (Ovid) Provides full-text access to nursing and allied health journals published by leading publishers.

Rehabilitation Reference Center (RRC) (EBSCOhost) Evidence-based clinical reference tool for use by rehabilitation clinicians at the point-of-care. Content: Clinical Reviews, research instruments, more than 9,800 exercise images, key reference handbooks, guidelines from the National Guidelines Clearinghouse, nearly 1,500 relevant patient education topics in both English & Spanish, and news and clinical updates.

Gale OneFile: Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine (Gale) Academic journals and magazines covering the fields of physical therapy, physical fitness, and sports medicine.

SPORTDiscus (Please note: This database is limited to 4 users at a time) Covers sports, physical fitness, exercise, sports medicine, sports science, physical education, kinesiology, college & university sport, disabled persons, health, health education, biomechanics, movement science, injury prevention rehabilitation, physical therapy, allied health, occupational health & therapy, public health and more.

Database Tutorials

Using Databases Guide

Search for Journal articles in Primo or library database (see databases tab)

Instructions for finding, accessing full-text, & requesting: Finding Journal Articles

Journal Titles

Issues from the past year often require ILL or Print

Pediatric Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy
PT in Motion
Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation
The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy
Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy
The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy EJournals Shelf

Finding Journal Articles By Journal Title in Primo

  1. Open  Primo Journal Title Search
  2. Search for the Journal’s TitlePrimo Journal Title Search Box
  3. Click on the Journal title in the search results.
  4. Search inside the journal for keywords on the journal page using the search box.

Search Inside this journal search box


Search for books and ebooks in Primo.

General Instruction: FINDING BOOKS

Library of Congress Call Numbers

RJ 52-53           Pediatric Therapeutics

RM695-799      Physical therapy and rehabilitation

 RM930-931      Rehabilitation therapy   


Ebook Central
EBSCO eBooks

Reference Books

Reference books are located in the short stacks in the center of the library.

Gray’s AnatomyREF QM 23.2 G73
Merck manual of diagnosis and therapyREF RC 55 M4
Physicians’ Desk ReferenceREF RS 75. P5
Human Anatomy OnlineWebsite
NLM’s MedlinePlus Medical EncyclopediaWebsite

When would I need to find statistics and datasets?  You might use statistics to describe your population/problem and show why it’s important. 


HealthData.gov: US health and medicine data

National Center for Health Statistics- Fast Stats   Alphabetical list of stats on public health issues

National Center for Health Statistics- Health annual report Datafinder tool and free infographics

State Health Facts (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

World Health Organization Data Repository: Health-related statistics from over 100 countries

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
List of data and statistics sources from the US Department of Health & Human Services.  


Background Information 

Online Encyclopedia of Physiotherapy

Database of assistive technology products and resources

Research Search Tools

Working on a literature review? Try one of these tools for more research articles and grey literature

NARIC (National Rehabilitation Information Center) DATABASE. 69,000 abstracts of books, reports, articles, and audiovisual materials relating to disability and rehabilitation research. 1956 -present.

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE)
Evidence-based systematic reviews & economic assessments. 1994-March 2015.

Evidence-Based Healthcare Search Tool to aid professionals 

HSRProj (Health Services Research Projects in Progress) (NIH)
Search tool for current health services research and public health projects in the US

PLoS Medicine
Open access journals in Medicine


PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database): a free database of over 19,000 randomized trials, systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines in physiotherapy. For all items, PEDro provides the citation details, the abstract, and a link to the full text, where possible.

Trip Database – Clinical Search Engine  Clinical search tool designed to allow health professionals to rapidly identify the highest quality clinical evidence for clinical practice. Registered users (registration is free) benefit from extra features such as CPD, search history, and collaborative tools.
Search PubMed with PICO

Video Tutorials

Click on the video and the CC icon for captions. 

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