Translating Genomic Advances to Physical Therapist Practice: A Closer Look at the Nature and Nurture of Common Diseases

Catherine L. Curtis, Allon Goldberg, Jeffrey Kleim, Steven L. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The Human Genome Project and the International HapMap Project have yielded new understanding of the influence of the human genome on health and disease, advancing health care in significant ways. In personalized medicine, genetic factors are used to identify disease risk and tailor preventive and therapeutic regimens. Insight into the genetic bases of cellular processes is revealing the causes of disease and effects of exercise. Many diseases known to have a major lifestyle contribution are highly influenced by common genetic variants. Genetic variants are associated with increased risk for common diseases such as cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis. Exercise response also is influenced by genetic factors. Knowledge of genetic factors can help clinicians better understand interindividual differences in disease presentation, pain experience, and exercise response. Family health history is an important genetic tool and encourages clinicians to consider the wider client-family unit. Clinicians in this new era need to be prepared to guide patients and their families on a variety of genomics-related concerns, including genetic testing and other ethical, legal, or social issues. Thus, it is essential that clinicians reconsider the role of genetics in the preservation of wellness and risk for disease to identify ways to best optimize fitness, health, or recovery. Clinicians with knowledge of the influence of genetic variants on health and disease will be uniquely positioned to institute individualized lifestyle interventions, thereby fulfilling roles in prevention and wellness. This article describes how discoveries in genomics are rapidly evolving the understanding of health and disease by highlighting 2 conditions: cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis. Genetic factors related to exercise effects also are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-580
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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