How I Treat My Patients From a Backpack | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

How I Treat My Patients From a Backpack

How I Treat My Patients From a Backpack

Can you treat your patients from a backpack?

Do you rely on a bunch of treatment and exercise equipment to treat your patients?

If so, I challenge you to try to treat your patients from a backpack. Think that’s crazy!? Well, I can tell you that it’s entirely possible and I’ve been doing it with success and it feels great to not be reliant on much to be able to get my patients better. And it doesn’t have to be literally from a backpack, like me. What I’m getting at is to challenge yourself to make your hands and brain (and some small tools, equipment, etc.) what you depend on to help your patients.

And yes, I understand there are some patients that this isn’t the best fit for, but you’d be surprised how many people you can help from a “backpack.”

How did I come about this idea? I have a small, side-hustle PT business, Modern Sports PT, that I run out of a CrossFit gym in my area and since space is limited there and due to me wanting to keep overhead as low as possible, I treat patients in a “temporary” space in the gym. Essentially, I set up a table in an area that’s not being used and treat my patients. What this temporary space also means is that I don’t have an area to store supplies or have my own larger equipment (I will say that I do have access to all the gym’s equipment if I need it, but, again, that’s not that often).

So I have to bring everything I would need to treat my patients with me each time (except for my treatment table which the gym owner found a spot to keep it after I break it down). And I don’t want to be carrying a boatload of things with me every time, so I challenged myself to get everything I would need into a backpack. The added bonus of being able to do this, is I can be mobile and provide high-level orthopedic PT from the comforts of people’s homes. And I can also treat family friends “on the spot.”

Now I know you’re wondering what I keep in my backpack, so here is a list (and picture) of everything that’s in there.

Table ($99 from Best Massage on Amazon)

Obviously this doesn’t fit in my backpack but it is needed to treat my patients (and it fits in the trunk of my car). The table I use is by Best Massage and I bought it because it seemed decent and was pretty cheap compared to many others. And I’ll say that it has held up fine and I don’t have any complaints. I don’t keep all the accessories with it, I just have the basic table in the carrying bag. The only modification I made to it was to slap a couple of my company’s stickers over their logo.

Backpack ($99 from Dadgear)
I’m a very neat person and love organization so I wanted a backpack that had lots of compartments and storage space. And at the time I had this idea, my two kids were under 2 and this backpack was what I was using as my diaper bag for them (I wanted my own “manly” diaper bag to use instead of lugging around my wife’s feminine-looking one). So I just ordered another one to use for my PT supplies and I absolutely love it. I’m sure you can find other backpacks that have multiple compartments like was just the phase of my life that I was in at the time.

IASTM Tool - Edge Tool ($115 from
I have been using this tool for ~5 years now and I love it. Great tool, great price. It fits in my back pocket - which is usually where I keep it when treating (that’s how often I use it). If anyone I talk to is interested in using IASTM, I always tell them to buy this tool rather than spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on some other tools.

Albolene (~$15 for 12 oz. tub on Amazon or from local drug store)
This is what I use when using IASTM. I actually buy a 3 pack from amazon and it’s a little cheaper per tub that way. And I get the big tub because I use it that often. I’ve heard of people using cocoa butter too.

Towels ($14 on Amazon)
Basic necessity for obvious reasons - draping, wiping up lotion, etc.

Mobility Bands ($28 from
I love using mobility bands - it amazes me how many times they can improve motion/symptoms so quickly. I’ve had both these bands and a set of Voodoo floss bands and they both work equally well.

“Mulligan” Belt ($9 on Amazon)
I don’t use an actual/official Mulligan belt. I actually bought this 6 ft long gait belt and it works fine for me (mostly use it for hip mobility). And if anyone ever complains of too much pressure on their thigh because this belt isn’t padded, I just put a towel in there.

Rocktape (~$19 a roll on Amazon)
I find kinesiology taping helpful for a lot of people and Rocktape is by far and away the best one I’ve used. It sticks the best and lasts the longest. And patients can get all different colors and designs if they like. I actually buy my tape through Rocktape’s website because I took their course and am “certified” and get tape at discounted price.

Scissors (I'm sure you have an extra pair laying around your house)
To cut the Rocktape...duh. edit - You need a pair of titanium non stick scissors if you're regularly cutting RockTape - here's the ones I use  - Dr. E

Alcohol wipes (couple bucks from local drug store)

To prep an area before putting on Rocktape.

Occlusion Cuff Elite ($130 from
I love using blood-flow restriction training with my patients and the Occlusion Cuff Elite is awesome. It’s so much better than the original version (I’ve used both). The ability to detach the tube enables patient to exercise without having to worry about the tube getting in the way.

Portable Doppler ($140 from
A must-have if you are using blood-flow restriction training on your patients. It enables you to determine the exact Limb Occlusion Pressure so you greatly improve the safety and efficacy of the BFR.

Resistance Band ($16-$45 Monster Band from Rogue Fitness)
I use a green band because I think it’s the most versatile for what I use it for. I mostly use these to show people how to do band-assisted mobility drills. Rarely do I actually use them for resisted exercise, but you could do that also.

Mobility Ball ($15 - from EDGE Mobility System)
To show patients how to use them for self-myofascial release. A lot of times, I’ll give them to patients too.

Suspension Trainer ($60 from
To perform various exercises with patients. I have personally used this suspension trainer and a TRX one over the years and this one works just as well and is less than half the price of a TRX.

Lysol Wipes (few bucks from local store)
To wipe down the table/equipment after each patient. I actually keep these in the pocket of the carrying case for the treatment table.

Empty Plastic Bags (“free” from your grocery store)
To bring dirty towels home to wash.

Binder/Clipboard/Pen (few bucks each from office supply store)
To write down any notes, measurements, etc. In my binder I keep copies of some of the forms I use in case someone didn’t fill them out prior to coming in.

Iphone Tripod ($10-15 from Amazon; lots of available options)
I use this when I’m making a video for a patient of their HEP.

Some things that weren’t in my backpack that you might be wondering about:
Dry needling equipment - in the state of NY where I practice, PTs are unfortunately not allowed to dry needle. I’d imagine you could find a spot in there for this though.

Val-slides - I just use a towel or paper plate (to use on wood floors); you could also use a cheap set of furniture sliders. But I don’t use them that often because I’ll use the suspension trainer instead.

Cupping - I haven’t gotten into cupping, but if you are, I’m sure they don’t take up that much space and could easily be put in your backpack.

Stim Unit - I don’t use TENS for patients but I do like to use NMES to the quad when applicable. But I don’t know of a good, reasonably priced portable unit to use for this. I used to use the Empi 300PV but it broke. If anyone knows of a portable unit that packs a lot of juice like the 300PV did, let me know!

Clinical Notes - I use google drive to do all my notes, paperwork, etc. and it works out well for me. edit - Check out G Suite for Inexpensive EMR 2.0 by Dr E!

Scheduling and Payments - I use the app PocketSuite and it works for the small amount of people I see. It’s free, has a small fee for credit card transactions, and the scheduling features work for me (syncs up to google calendar, sends reminders, etc.)

The roundabout total of all these items comes out to ~$750 (and that’s IF you bought ALL the items I listed). $750 for the ability to treat people wherever you (or they) want is well worth it in my book.

Now that you’ve seen what’s in my backpack, give it some thought and let me know what would you put in your backpack?

What am I missing? I know there has to be more things out there that I could use, so I’d love to hear your suggestions.

via Dr. Dennis Treubig, DPT - Modern Sports PT

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