14 Tue

New word of the day: Mechanotransduction!

New word of the day: Mechanotransduction!

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


It’s a mouthful, a word you don’t see everyday: mechanotransduction.  It’s basically when a cell in your body receives some type of mechanical stimulus and converts it to some electrical signal for other cellular processes, converting a mechanical stimulus into a chemical activity.  It’s the basis of how our body works.

To take this concept to the next step, and relate it to physical therapy, we have to introduce another new word:  mechanotherapy.  It’s when we apply some sort of load to a cell to promote healing and rehabilitation.  The cells of your body take that mechanical stimulus and repairs itself.

You can see a great example of this in the classic movie, Kickboxer, starring acclaimed actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.


He’s instructed to repeatedly kick this tree. At first, it’s very painful and difficult, but later in the movie after repeated practice and sufficient tissue load, he’s able to perform the task easily.

Mechanotherapy is the same reason why Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscles are so much bigger than mine.  The amount of load that is placed on the body can create cellular changes and growth.

These two examples are a little bit removed from the realm of physical therapy, but the underlying principle is the same.

Someone may come in to see us with an injury or tendonitis.  We apply specific loads in specific directions and amounts to create a rehabilitative change in the tissue, making the tissue stronger and better, thus reducing pain and increasing function.

It’s not a quick process.  It takes time.  But the end result is better than any shortcut.  During a physical therapy session, exercises are prescribed in a specific manner to create this mechanical change, it’s mechanotherapy.  The load must be sufficient, though, to create change.  So the exercises may seem difficult or impossible, but just like JCVD hitting that tree, keep at it.

Physiotherapists may not have you kick a tree, but we are licensed to use mechanotherapy in our practice.  We turn movement into healing.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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