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Journal for Practice Managers

Physiotherapy Body Chart: Theory, Examples, and Recommendations

A physiotherapy body chart is a visual representation of the human body that is used in the field of physical therapy. It helps to identify and track different parts of the body, such as bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves.

Physical therapists use charts to understand the anatomy and function of the body, diagnose and treat injuries or conditions, and develop rehabilitation programs. Anatomical charts may be a poster, diagram, or software-based visualization. It typically includes detailed images and labels that show the different parts of the body and their relationships to each other.

This article will help you to figure out the main issues of using a body chart in your workflow, meaning:

  • Content of a chart
  • How to make a comprehensive document
  • Visual representation of information
  • Legal regulations and requirements


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The Content of a Body Chart and a Musculoskeletal Assessment Form

The frequency of filling out a physio body chart by a physical therapist varies and depends on the individual case and treatment plan. It can be done after each session, at regular intervals during follow-ups, or at the end of treatment.

The physical therapist may also use other forms of assessment and record-keeping to supplement the chart. The key thing is to ensure that the chart accurately reflects the patient's progress and any changes in their condition.

The appointment is made with an indication of all the parameters of the procedure and signed by the doctor. The physiotherapy assessment form and the chart contain the necessary information for the report and analysis of the work. They contain:

  • First and last names of a patient
  • Gender and age
  • Name of the attending physician
  • Patient's referral
  • Complaints
  • Past medical history
  • The place of the procedure (in the office, dressing room, at home)
  • The number of procedures taken
  • The number of procedural units and the results of treatment
  • Diagnosis
  • The signature of the clinician.

Also, this information is duplicated in the electronic health records of the patient.

The card is issued by a physiotherapist or attending physician separately for each physiotherapy procedure.

There are two main requirements for comprehensive dermatome charts and forms:

  1. The content should be exhaustive, i.e. include all parameters
  2. The style of presentation is concise and clear, with no second guesses.

The requirements for language style in physical therapy may vary depending on the specific context and purpose of the chart. However, some common requirements include the use of proper terminology related to anatomy and physiology, and an objective and neutral tone. It is also critical to follow any relevant regulations and guidelines related to medical documentation and patient privacy.


How To Make Comprehensive Charts and Forms?

To make a thorough physio body chart, you need to consider the following steps:

Determine the purpose of the chart

What type of physical therapy will the chart be used for and what information will it need to convey?

Choose the format

You can choose from a full-body chart, a specific body region chart or a chart that focuses on a particular joint or muscle group.

Use pre-made forms and templates like SOAP notes.

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Select accurate and detailed anatomy images

You can use images from anatomy textbooks or online resources, or create your own illustrations.

Incorporate measurement scales and labeling

The chart should include measurement scales for tracking progress and labeling for easy identification of muscles, bones, and joints.

Make it user-friendly

The chart should be easy to read and understand, with clear and concise labeling and a logical layout.

Regularly update the chart

The chart should be updated regularly as the patient progresses in their therapy and their anatomy changes.

2 Parts That Are Equally Relevant

For your chart, you should include a body image (the chart itself) and a prescription (descriptive).

Body image

An image is used to identify and record the locations and types of pain, injuries, or conditions in the body.

The therapist will typically ask the patient to point out or mark areas of pain or discomfort on the chart. The chart is then used as a reference during the course of treatment, with updates made as the patient's condition improves or worsens.

Prescription part

It is important to indicate the name of the prescribed physical impact, the zone of impact (body part, neck, lower back, forearm, foot, etc.), and the main parameters of the procedure (current strength, power, dose, mode, duration of exposure, frequency of treatments). Physical factors determine the list of these parameters and precuations.

Here are detailed instructions on how to display information.

Visual Representation of Patients' Information: The Script

When a patient arrives for an appointment, he may feel a bit stiff. Naturally, you must hear him out, listen to his complaints, and, most importantly, ask him questions, immediately take notes, and mark them in the chart.

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The number one question you should ask is:

“Where do you experience your symptoms?”

For example, the patient will begin to complain about his low back pain in the area of the lumbar spinal nerve and rotator cuff pain. Your task is to clarify information by asking:

“Can you point out where exactly you have this pain?”

Mark all zones he mentioned, then clear all the other areas and ask:

“Do you have any symptoms in the rest of your back and shoulders? In any other parts of your body?”

Tick the areas that don’t hurt.

“Are there pins and needles or numbness in any of those areas?”

If there are no complaints, you can write it in the chart like “0 pins” to save your time. The purpose of this procedure is to document that you have asked about the whole body and haven’t missed anything.

The areas with pain require more attention. You can mark them “P1”, “P2”, etc.

SIN factor

SIN factor stands for:

  • Severity
  • Irritability
  • Nature.

Your next step is to inquire about the SIN factor for each pain area.

To check the severity, meaning the intensity of pain, you give your patient the scale from 0 to 10 and ask:

“How would you describe the intensity of pain from 0 to 10?”

Put the numbers in the chart in the form of “5/10, 6/10”, etc.

Irritability means how often and how frequently the symptoms come on. It’s better to help the patient and give him some options:

“Would you describe the pain as constant, intermittent, some of the time, etc.?”

Put his answers in the chart.

And finally, you should inquire about the nature of the pain. Again, there can be some options like:

“How do you describe pain? How does it feel? Is it sharp, burning, dull, or throbbing, aggravating pain, etc.?”

Write down the nature of the pain near the pain areas.

Once you’ve done with the SIN factors, your task is to sum the data up and ask about the relationships between the pain areas. You may ask:

"Do you find these symptoms come on or go off together? Are there any easing factors? Do they impact your range of motion, such as flexion, extension, etc.?”

If the patient can easily track the connection between the pain and the symptoms, write it down as follows:

"Start of P1 leads to P2.”

As a result, you'll come up with a comprehensive body chart that can easily be used for subjective assessment to formulate diagnoses much more clearly. Here is a pre-made example:


The legal regulations for a physiotherapy body chart can vary depending on the jurisdiction. In general, healthcare providers are subject to various laws and regulations that protect the privacy and security of patients' health information.

In the United States the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets standards for the privacy and security of protected health information. This includes the use of physiotherapy body charts, which are considered to be part of a patient's medical record.

It is critical to note that the regulations and requirements for charts can change over time, so it is advisable to keep up-to-date with the latest laws and regulations in your jurisdiction.

In the United Kingdom, the use and storage of personal data, including physiological data, is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR sets out the rules for the protection of personal data, including the collection, storage, and use of personal data. It also sets out the rights of individuals to access their personal data.

In the context of physiological data, healthcare providers must obtain the explicit consent of patients before collecting, using, or storing their data. Additionally, healthcare providers must ensure that the data is securely stored and that access to the data is restricted to authorized personnel only. The data must also be deleted or destroyed when it is no longer needed.

The UK also has specific regulations for the use of physiological data in the healthcare sector, such as the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009.

Practice Management Software For Physical Therapists

Practice management software for physical therapy body charts helps therapists to quickly and accurately fill out patient body charts. The software allows therapists to create custom templates that include all the necessary information for the patient.

It also provides easy-to-use tools for filling out the body chart, such as drop-down menus and drag-and-drop options. Additionally, it stores all patient information securely, giving therapists access to their information whenever they need it.

Finally, it allows therapists to quickly generate reports on the progress of their patients, helping them to make informed decisions about their treatments.

To stay informed about the latest news about PMS for physical therapists visit our blog.

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