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Wright Physical Therapy Human Performance Scale…Explained


Over the past decade and through discussion with several health practitioners, WPT has discovered appropriate classifications of human performance for athletes and non-athletes alike. Commonly, we are asked whether surgery, physical therapy, rest or exercising is needed to progress a patient past their pain or a dysfunction.   The WPT Human Performance Scale was thus created as a visual classification tool to assist clinicians in optimal program placement, ideal progressions and safe, cost effective return to sport or activity.  The scale is an effective tool for the aging grandparent as much as it is for the young athlete aspiring to dominate their game.


Human Performance is enhanced in a person when they are classified accurately and steps in the scale are not skipped. Often, people will attempt to circumvent reality of their physical situation in an effort to get back to activity sooner than they should.

As a simple example, a person at the scale level of 0.5 (surgery) might try to skip the surgery they require and opt for physical therapy instead, or even attempt to wait out the dysfunction that requires surgery.  These would be foolish actions in the end.  Ultimately, someone who requires surgery will wind up paying more resources in time and money if they skipped facing the reality that they require surgery to move forward with their activities or sport.  If a patient is ready for level 3 (Bridge-discharge from advanced PT), but skips the bridge, they will find that they do not advance past a 3 truly.  The patient continues to be “stuck” in their athletic performance and will potentially re-injure.


Professional athletes, such as Derrick Rose (who ruptured his ACL playing basketball), can progress from a level 3 quickly to a level 9 if they receive surgery (0.5), followed by performing advanced PT (2) and Performance Bridge (3) sequentially.  The criteria we use for “testing out” of one level to the next were not printed on the visual poster for simplicity sake.  However, these “test-out” criteria are documented and have been integrated after years of discussion between human performance professionals, doctors of physical therapy, physicians and ATCs.

Returning to activity / sport after an injury that required Advanced PT or surgery can be a chronic uphill battle. Function specific training is introduced in advanced physical therapy, though is not complete.  The Bridge Program is an ideal and necessary solution to improve human performance and ensures higher level physical and psychological confidence  in returning safely to sport or activity.  Baseline measurements are utilized for return to sport criteria set forth by research, physicians and physical therapists for injured body regions. Additional tests are performed to reflect activity or sport specificity as well as determine the overall performance level of the individual.


Succinct descriptions are typed next to each level on the scale to assist in classifying human performance. Individuals should be identified properly on the scale to best advance to a higher level. In our clinics, the DPTs spend time with patients to explain what is most needed at the given time to help advance the patient to the next level of human performance.  The criteria for advancing to the next level have been studied and recorded on other spreadsheets for consistent progressions. In this way, we see individuals achieving goals at rapid rates and our clinicians can appropriately refer to physicians and trainers to help accomplish desired outcomes.  Please email bryan@wrightpt.com for further insight into the practical use of this scale.