Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IA STM) is a therapeutic technique that uses specific applied instruments to promote mobilization of restricted tissue. Restricted or adhered myofascial tissue and/or scar tissue are the primary tissues addressed with its application.
Myofascial tissue consists of muscles, tendons, ligaments and other surrounding connective tissue. This type of mobilization is often used to aid with the healing process and, when coupled with other therapeutic interventions, can aid with recovery after an injury. Once the area of restriction is found, the treating therapist will provide a gliding motion with a selected instrument over the treatment area to loosen any tissue that is limited in movement.
During application, the instruments are applied directly over the patients' skin using an emollient or lotion at a specific angle to provide a therapeutic response to the tissue being treated. Sometimes bruising can occur.
Not all conditions will benefit from this type of treatment, and it should be left to the rehabilitative specialist to determine the necessity of its application. Some past medical history is contraindicated for the use of IA STM, and you should speak with the members of your medical team to determine if you are a candidate for this type of treatment. Some common IA STM of choice include Gaston and Sound-Assisted soft tissue mobilization.