3300 – Thoracic Spine: The Missing Link to Function

Advanced / 7-hour Workshop


Faculty: Beth Scalone, PT, DPT, OCS, ATRIC



The thoracic spine is often overlooked in rehabilitation. As the link between the cervical spine and trunk, and the shoulder and the trunk, it plays a vital role in the function of the upper quadrant. As the connection of the lumbar spine to the trunk with muscle and fascial connections to the pelvis, the thoracic spine is involved in energy transfer from the lower body to the upper body in activities such as pushing, pulling, lifting and throwing. It could be argued that rehabilitation programs for all individuals regardless of diagnosis should address the thoracic spine.


This course will review the anatomy, biomechanics and connections of the thoracic spine as they relate to function. Lecture will discuss current research and common diagnoses related to the thoracic spine. Research combined with clinical pearls are linked to aquatic rehabilitation techniques with the goals of restoring mobility, improving strength, correcting postural alignment and return to function. The pool lab portion will allow the participant to practice these techniques along with experiencing progressions for functional integrative exercise for individuals of all ages and abilities.



1)  Explore current research relating thoracic spine mobility influences on neck, shoulder and lumbar spine function.

2)  Progress and cue clients in aquatic based exercises to restore and maintain thoracic spine mobility and strength.

3)  Describe the connection between the thoracic spine and rib cage.

4)  State precautions and contraindications related to thoracic spine diagnoses.

5)  Recognize key aspects to rehabilitation of common diagnoses involving the thoracic spine (scoliosis, spondylitis, T4 syndrome, thoracic outlet, compression fracture, postural related pain).

6)  Perform manual aquatic techniques to restore mobility of thoracic spine.


FACULTY: Beth Scalone, PT, DPT, OCS, ATRIC, is a licensed physical therapist with many years of experience in orthopedic and aquatic therapy. As the owner of North County Water and Sports Therapy Center in San Diego (www.waterpt.com), she continues with hands-on clinical care in addition to her role as educator. Since graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1991, Beth has belonged to the American Physical Therapy Association and has achieved certification as a Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy. In January 2006, she graduated from Boston University with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Additional certifications include Certified STOTT Pilates™ instructor and Master Instructor for the Burdenko Method.


Beth not only provides continuing education for health care professionals, she is an adjunct faculty in the San Diego Mesa College PTA program, teaching Orthopedic Rehabilitation and Introduction to Pathology courses. She also provides the learning module/instruction on aquatic therapy to the University of St. Augustine San Diego Campus DPT program. She is the recipient of the 2010 ATRI Tsunami Spirit Award and the 2012 ATRI Professional Award.