Detection of skin temperature differences using palpation by manual physical therapists and lay individuals

David Levine, J. Randy Walker, Denis J Marcellin-Little, Ron Goulet, Hongyu Ru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To evaluate the accuracy of detection of temperature differences among skin sites of lay individuals and manual physical therapists. Methods: Forty-four manual physical therapists and 44 lay individuals were recruited. Subjects palpated two temperature-controlled surfaces that ranged in temperature between 30 and 35 °C and varied randomly by 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 °C for 10 s. The subjects were then asked to identify the warmer pad. Results: Accuracy increased with larger temperature differences. Accuracy of detection of 1 and 3 °C temperature differences was higher in manual physical therapists than lay individuals. Discussion: Palpation can be used to accurately detecting temperature differences between sites and is more accurately performed by an experienced practitioner. Level of Evidence: 3b

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 23 2018



  • manual therapy
  • palpation
  • physical therapist
  • Skin temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this