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Indiana Physical Therapy Scope of Practice

How does the state define physical therapy?

"Physical therapy" means the evaluation of, administration of, or instruction in physical rehabilitative and habilitative techniques and procedures to evaluate, prevent, correct, treat, alleviate, and limit physical disability, pathokinesiological function, bodily malfunction, pain from injury, disease, and any other physical disability or mental disorder, including:

    • The use of physical measures, agents, and devices for preventive and therapeutic purposes;
    • Neurodevelopmental procedures;
    • The performance, interpretation, and evaluation of physical therapy tests and measurements; and
    • The provision of consultative, educational, and other advisory services for the purpose of preventing or reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, bodily malfunction, and pain.

What is the scope practice for PTs?

"Physical therapy" includes, but is not limited to, such measures as the following:

    • Performing and interpreting tests and measurements of neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, cardiac, and pulmonary functions as a part of treatment, interpretation of physician referrals, initial patient evaluation, initial and ongoing treatment planning, periodic reevaluation of the patient, and adjustment of the treatment plan.
    • Planning initial and subsequent treatment programs on the basis of test findings and within the orders of a referring practitioner who is licensed to practice medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, podiatry, or chiropractic.
    • Administering treatment through the use of physical, chemical, or other properties of heat or cold, light, water, electricity, massage, mechanical devices, and therapeutic exercise, which includes all types of physical rehabilitative techniques and procedures.

Additional Services

"Sharp debridement" means the removal of foreign material or dead tissue from or around a wound, without anesthesia and with generally no bleeding, through the use of:

    • A sterile scalpel;
    • Scissors;
    • Forceps;
    • Tweezers; or
    • Other sharp medical instruments.

In order to expose healthy tissue, prevent infection, and promote healing.

A physical therapist may not perform sharp debridement unless the physical therapist is acting on the order or referral of a:

    • Physician or osteopath; or
    • Podiatrist licensed.

"Spinal manipulation" means a method of skillful and beneficial treatment by which a physical therapist uses direct thrust to move a joint of the patient's spine beyond its normal range of motion, but without exceeding the limits of anatomical integrity.

A physical therapist may not perform spinal manipulation of the spinal column or the vertebral column unless:

    • The physical therapist is acting on the order or referral of a physician, an osteopath, or a chiropractor; and
    • The referring physician, osteopath, or chiropractor has examined the patient before issuing the order or referral.


IC 25-27-1-1

IC 25-27-1-3.5

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