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New Jersey PT Scope of Practice

How is the practice of Physical Therapy defined in New Jersey?

"Physical therapy" and "physical therapy practice" mean the identification of physical impairment, movement-related functional limitation, or balance disorder that occurs as a result of injury or congenital or acquired disability, or other physical dysfunction through examination, evaluation and diagnosis of the physical impairment or movement-related functional limitation and the establishment of a prognosis for the resolution or amelioration thereof, and treatment of the physical impairment or movement-related functional limitation.

What is included in the practice of physical therapy?

""Physical therapy and physical therapy practice" mean the identification of physical impairment, movement-related functional limitation, or balance disorder that occurs as a result of injury or congenital or acquired disability or other physical dysfunction through examination, evaluation, and diagnosis of the physical impairment or movement-related functional limitation and the establishment of a prognosis, which includes the establishment of the plan of care and all interventions, for the resolution or amelioration thereof and treatment of the physical impairment or movement-related functional limitation, which shall include, but is not limited to, the alleviation of pain, physical impairment, and movement-related functional limitation by physical therapy intervention, including treatment by means of:

    • Manual therapy techniques and massage;
    • Electro-therapeutic modalities;
    • Wound debridement and care pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:39A-2.2A;
    • The use of physical agents, mechanical modalities, hydrotherapy, therapeutic exercises with or without assistive devices;
    • Neurodevelopmental procedures;
    • Joint mobilization;
    • Movement-related functional training in self-care; 8. Providing assistance in community and work integration or reintegration;
    • Providing training in techniques for the prevention of injury, impairment, movement related functional limitation, or dysfunction;
    • Providing consultative, educational, other advisory services; and
    • Collaboration with other health care providers in connection with patient care.

“Physical therapy and physical therapy practice” also includes the screening, examination, evaluation, and application of interventions for the promotion, improvement, and maintenance of fitness, health, wellness, and prevention services in populations of all ages exclusively related to physical therapy practice.

"Physical therapy intervention" means the interaction of the licensed physical therapist with the patient using various physical therapy procedures and techniques to produce changes in the condition consistent with the patient's dysfunction, disability, or level of function and consistent with the patient's projected outcome as a result of physical therapy intervention. When physical therapy instruction is provided to an individual as part of his or her therapeutic interventions, the instruction must be considered part of physical therapy intervention.

Definitions related to diagnostic testing

"Clinically supported" means that a licensee, prior to selecting, performing or ordering the administration of a diagnostic test, has:

    • Personally performed a physical examination, making an assessment of any current and/or historical subjective complaints, observations, objective findings, neurological indications;
    • Considered any and all previously performed tests relating to the patient's medical condition and the results; and
    • Documented in the patient record positive and negative findings, observations and medical indications to justify the test.

"Diagnostic testing" means a medical service utilizing biomechanical, neurological, neurodiagnostic, radiological, vascular or any means, other than bioanalysis, intended to assist in establishing a physical therapy diagnosis, for the purpose of recommending a course of treatment for the tested patient to be performed consistent with the Physical Therapy Practice Act, N.J.S.A. 45:9-37.11 et seq., and this chapter.

"Physical therapy diagnosis" means a description placed on a group of signs and symptoms that are identified as a result of the examination and evaluative process. The purpose of the diagnostic determination is to allow the licensed physical therapist to select the appropriate physical therapy interventions) to initiate the most effective care for the purpose of achieving the patient's goals.

Examinations and evaluations

"Physical therapy evaluation" means a review exclusively by a licensed physical therapist based on data and information collected during the examination and before any intervention. The evaluation reflects the chronicity and severity of the current patient problem and the possibility of multisystem and multisite involvement that may coexist with preexisting systemic conditions or diseases. The evaluation considers the level of the current impairment(s), functional limitation(s) and disability(ies), the living environment, potential discharge destination(s) and social support(s).

"Physical therapy examination" means an inquiry conducted by a licensed physical therapist into the patient history, relevant systems review, and tests and measurements, which is conducted prior to any intervention. The history is an account of past and current health status. The system review is an examination that provides information about the general health of the patient that helps the licensed physical therapist determine physical therapy diagnosis, a prognosis and a plan of care. Tests and measurements are performed by the licensed physical therapist after review of the patient's history and systems reviewed to elicit additional information.

Services specifically excluded from the scope of practice

A "physical therapy evaluation" does not include examining any person for the purpose of diagnosing any disease or organic condition.

The following acts and practices shall be among those deemed to be outside the scope of physical therapy and upon proof that a licensee is engaging in such conduct he or she may be subject to disciplinary action:

    • The conducting of a breast examination;
    • The conducting of a pelvic internal examination, except internal evaluation of the pelvic floor musculature;
    • The taking of radiological studies; or
    • The representation of physical therapy treatment to be a cure or remedy for disease or organic condition unrelated to physical disability for which physical therapy services have been sought.

Are there any specific procedures or modalities regulated by the board?

Wound Debridement

A licensed physical therapist shall perform wound debridement only after communicating with the patient’s licensed physician or licensed podiatric physician.

A licensed physical therapist shall maintain documentation of the communication required by (a) above as part of his or her patient records.


N.J. Rev. Stat. § 45:9-37.13

NJAC § 13:39A-2.1

NJAC § 13:39A-2.2

NJAC §13:39A-2.2A

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