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California Physical Therapy

Welcome to our California Physical Therapy FAQs.  We've combined the state laws, board rules, and statements to create a clear guide on the rules that must be followed by PTs and PTAs in California. 


Continuing Education

    • How many continuing education hours are required during a reporting period?
    • Can CE credits be carried over into the next reporting period?
    • Are there any specific courses that must be taken?
    • What types of activities can be used for the continuing education requirements?
    • What type of approval is needed for the courses?
    • What are the reporting requirements?
    • Waivers and audits 

Scope of Practice

  • How is physical therapy defined in California?
  • What is included in the practice of physical therapy?
  • What is specifically excluded from the practice?
  • Are there any special training requirements?
  • Can PTs practice wound debridement?
  • Does California allow PTs to remove staples and sutures?

Electromyography Certification

  • Certification and Application Requirement
  • Requirements for Kinesiological Electromyography Certification
  • Requirements for Electroneuromyography Authorization
  • Suspension or Revocation of Certificates
  • Electromyography Reports

Topical Medications

  • Administration of Medications
  • Authorization and Protocols Required
  • Authorized Topical Medications

Direct Access and Referrals 

  • Is a referral required to provide PT services?
  • Do I have to give my patient specific notice?
  • Are there situations where the above conditions do not have to be met?
  • When does a PT have to refer a patient to a physician?


  • Definition of a PTA
  • What activities are expressly prohibited?
  • Can a PTA perform a functional capacity evaluation?
  • What are the responsibilities of the PT when delegating to a PTA?
  • What type of therapist supervision is required?
  • Can an assistant be supervised by a physical therapy student or graduate?
  • Who is the therapist of record?
  • What is the ratio between supervising PTs and PTAs?
  • What must a PTA document?
  • Required designation for assistants
  • Can PTAs serve in leadership roles?


  • What can an aide do?
  • What is an aide expressly prohibited from doing?
  • What are the responsibilities of the PT when delegating to an aide?
  • What type of supervision is required?
  • Can an aide be supervised by a physical therapy student or graduate?
  • What is the ratio between supervising PTs and aides?
  • Identification requirements for aides
  • Can athletic trainers be utilized as aides?

PT and PTA Students

  • Can students practice in a clinical setting?
  • What kind of supervision is required for student physical therapists?
  • What kind of supervision is required for student PTAs?
  • How must students identify themselves?

PT and PTA Graduates 

  • Who is eligible for a temporary permit?
  • What type of supervision is required for a physical therapist license applicant?
  • Documentation requirements for the PT graduate/applicant
  • Documentation requirements for the supervising PT
  • Supervision requirements for a PTA license applicant
  • Documentation requirements for the PTA license applicant
  • Responsibilities of the supervising PT
  • Duration of the permit

Documentation Requirements

  • What are a therapist’s documentation responsibilities?
  • What are a therapy assistant’s documentation responsibilities?
  • When does a therapist need to reassess the patient?
  • How long do I need to maintain patient records?


  • Can I advertise my practice?
  • What is considered to be a false or misleading statement?
  • What is required if I advertise my prices?
  • What may be included in my advertisement?

Identification and Notifications 

  • Individual Identification
  • Use of the prefix “Dr.”
  • Notification to Patients
  • Notice of Information Changes
    Unprofessional Conduct
    • Violations related to supervision
    • Violations related to records
    • Violations related to sexual misconduct
    • Requirement to report a conviction or license action
    • Prohibited contract provisions
    • When required to report to the board

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