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active or? passive therapy

The difference between active and passive therapy

Active therapy would be any type of therapy in which the patient performs the movement independently and the therapist tries to improve the patient's condition by increasing the range of movement, muscle strength and function of the patient himself. 

Passive therapy is any type of therapy in which the patient does not perform movement or exercise independently, but the physiotherapist performs a certain passive technique on the patient himself with the aim of improving the patient's condition.  

Active or passive therapy
Active therapy

Benefits of active therapy

Movement is one of the most important functions of man that allows us to move quickly and effectively in space and to overcome obstacles in the same. 

Given the very fact that we have previously stated, We think that we do not need to emphasize the importance of this movement or the importance of exercise in the daily life of human or the patient. 

Each program of physical therapy should necessarily include some form of active therapy, since without it there will be no long-term progress and solution of the problem for the patient. 

Examples of active therapy:

  • Range of motion exercises 
  • Strength exercises 
  • Proprioceptive training 
  • Movement restoration 
  • Neurological training 
Benefits of active therapy:
  • The increase in mobility
  • Increase in strength 
  • Retrieving a normal function
  • Increasing the patient's independence

Advantages of passive therapy

Passive therapy is one of the oldest forms of medicine used since the time of Hippocrates. 

Passive therapy primarily serves to quickly and effectively reduce pain and increase the function of the patient in order to bring him into the active therapy program as soon as possible. 

Examples of passive therapy:

Advantages of passive therapy:
  • Rapid pain reduction 
  • Increase the range of motion 
  • Retrieving a normal function
  • Providing additional patient confidence 
Geriatric physiotherapy

Active OR? passive therapy

Why did we put a questionnaire next to or? 

In recent years, there has been a rift between more extreme groups in physical therapy and medicine, where on the one hand only active therapy is advocated, while on the other hand only passive therapy is advocated. 

Unfortunately, this approach is completely wrong. 

The ultimate goal of any rehabilitation program is to bring the patient to the state in which he was before the injury or deficit. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to use and combine all possible tools to do so as soon and in the long term as possible. 

By turning off one or another form of therapy, we can only slow down this process, not advance it as extreme groups think. 

Passive and active therapy perfectly complement each other only a quality diagnosis or a quality clinician is needed to make an optimal combination of therapy for an individual patient. 


We would advise all colleagues to leave this kind of controversy behind us and to work on improving the condition of our patients together!  

Pogledajte isječak našeg predavanja s Kineziološkog fakulteta u Zagrebu na temu Aktivne i pasivne terapije. 

Također podijelite ovaj post s kolegama i kolegicama kako bi svi učili jedni od drugih i prestali s nepotrebnim predrasudama.

Picture of Bsc. PT. Toni Marić

Bsc. PT. Toni Marić

Toni is bacc. physical therapist and the owner of the Ad Sacrum clinic who has been treating top athletes for years and also teaches at the Dry needling courses for physiotherapists.

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