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Physical Therapy  Scope of Practice 50-State Survey

This 50-state survey contains each state’s definition of physical therapy services.  This gives a general idea of each state’s physical therapy scope of practice.

Up-to-date as of March 11, 2019 

Alabama

The treatment of a human being by the use of exercise, massage, heat, cold, water, radiant energy, electricity, or sound for the purpose of correcting or alleviating any physical or mental condition or preventing the development of any physical or mental disability, or the performance of neuromuscular-skeletal tests and measurements to determine the existence and extent of body malfunction; provided, that physical therapy shall be practiced only upon the referral of a physician licensed to practice medicine or surgery, a dentist licensed to practice dentistry, a licensed chiropractor, a licensed assistant to a physician acting pursuant to a valid supervisory agreement, or a licensed certified registered nurse practitioner in a collaborative practice agreement with a licensed physician.

Physical therapy does not include radiology or electrosurgery.

Ala. Code § 34-24-191

Alaska

“Physical therapy” means the examination, treatment and instruction of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate and limit physical disability, bodily malfunction, pain from injury, disease and other bodily or mental conditions and includes the administration, interpretation and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures; the planning, administration, evaluation and modification of treatment and instruction including the use of physical measures, activities and devices for preventive and therapeutic purposes; the provision of consultative, educational and other advisory services for the purpose of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, bodily malfunction and pain.

“Physical therapy” does not include the use of roentgen rays and radioactive materials for diagnosis and therapeutic purposes, the use of electricity for surgical purposes, and the diagnosis of disease.

Alaska Stat. 08.84.190

Arizona

"Practice of physical therapy" means:

Examining, evaluating and testing persons who have mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations and disabilities or other health and movement related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, a prognosis and a plan of therapeutic intervention and to assess the ongoing effects of intervention.

Alleviating impairments and functional limitations by managing, designing, implementing and modifying therapeutic interventions including:

  • Therapeutic exercise.
  • Functional training in self-care and in home, community or work reintegration.
  • Manual therapy techniques.
  • Therapeutic massage.
  • Assistive and adaptive orthotic, prosthetic, protective and supportive devices and equipment.
  • Pulmonary hygiene.
  • Debridement and wound care.
  • Physical agents or modalities.
  • Mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities.
  • Patient related instruction.

Reducing the risk of injury, impairments, functional limitations and disability by means that include promoting and maintaining a person's fitness, health and quality of life.

Engaging in administration, consultation, education and research.

A.R.S. § 32-2001

Arkansas

“Practice of physical therapy” means:

Examining and evaluating patients with mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments, functional limitations, and disability or other health-related conditions in order to determine a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, and planned therapeutic intervention;

Alleviating impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that include:

  • Therapeutic exercise;
  • Functional training in self-care as it relates to patient mobility and community access;
  • Manual therapy techniques, including soft tissue massage, manual traction, connective tissue massage, therapeutic massage, and mobilization, i.e., passive movement accomplished within normal range of motion of the joint, but excluding spinal manipulation and adjustment;
  • Assistive and adaptive devices and equipment as they relate to patient mobility and community access;
  • Physical agents;
  • Mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and
  • Patient-related instruction.

The therapeutic intervention of bronchopulmonary hygiene and debridement of wounds require a physician referral before initiation of treatment.

Preventing injury, impairments, functional limitations, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age populations; and

Engaging in consultation, testing, education, and research.

Physical therapy does not include radiology or electrosurgery.

Ark. Code § 7-93-102

California

Physical therapy means the art and science of physical or corrective rehabilitation or of physical or corrective treatment of any bodily or mental condition of any person by the use of the physical, chemical, and other properties of heat, light, water, electricity, sound, massage, and active, passive, and resistive exercise, and shall include physical therapy evaluation, treatment planning, instruction and consultative services. The practice of physical therapy includes the promotion and maintenance of physical fitness to enhance the bodily movement related health and wellness of individuals through the use of physical therapy interventions.

The use of roentgen rays and radioactive materials, for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, and the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization, are not authorized under the term “physical therapy” as used in this chapter, and a license issued pursuant to this chapter does not authorize the diagnosis of disease.

Cal. Bus. and Prof Code 2620

Colorado

"Physical therapy" means the examination, physical therapy diagnosis,

treatment, or instruction of patients and clients to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, or limit physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction, or pain from injury, disease, and other bodily conditions.

"Physical therapy" includes:

  • The administration, evaluation, and interpretation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures;
  • The planning, administration, evaluation, and modification of treatment and instruction;
  • The use of physical agents, measures, activities, and devices for preventive and therapeutic purposes, subject to the requirements of section 12-41-113;
  • The administration of topical and aerosol medications consistent with the scope of physical therapy practice subject to the requirements of section 12-41-113;
  • The provision of consultative, educational, and other advisory services for the purpose of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction, and pain; and
  • General wound care, including the assessment and management of skin lesions, surgical incisions, open wounds, and areas of potential skin breakdown in order to maintain or restore the integumentary system.

"Physical agents" includes, but is not limited to, heat, cold, water, air, sound, light, compression, electricity, and electromagnetic energy.

"Physical measures, activities, and devices" includes resistive, active, and

passive exercise, with or without devices; joint mobilization; mechanical stimulation; biofeedback; dry needling; postural drainage; traction; positioning; massage; splinting; training in locomotion; other functional activities, with or without assistive devices; and correction of posture, body mechanics, and gait.

"Biofeedback" means the use of monitoring instruments by a physical therapist to detect and amplify internal physiological processes for the

purpose of neuromuscular rehabilitation.

"Tests and measurements" includes, but is not limited to, tests of muscle strength, force, endurance, and tone; reflexes and automatic reactions; movement skill and accuracy; joint motion, mobility, and stability; sensation and perception; peripheral nerve integrity; locomotor skill, stability, and endurance; activities of daily living; cardiac, pulmonary, and vascular functions; fit, function, and comfort of prosthetic, orthotic, and other assistive devices; posture and body mechanics; limb length, circumference, and volume; thoracic excursion and breathing patterns; vital signs; nature and locus of pain and conditions under which pain varies; photosensitivity; and physical home and work environments.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 12-41-103

Connecticut

“Physical therapy” means the evaluation and treatment of any person by the employment of the effective properties of physical measures, the performance of tests and measurements as an aid to evaluation of function and the use of therapeutic exercises and rehabilitative procedures, with or without assistive devices, for the purpose of preventing, correcting or alleviating a physical or mental disability.

“Physical therapy” includes the establishment and modification of physical therapy programs, treatment planning, instruction, wellness care, peer review, consultative services and the use of low-level light laser therapy for the purpose of accelerating tissue repair, decreasing edema or minimizing or eliminating pain.

PT does not include surgery, the prescribing of drugs, the development of a medical diagnosis of disease, injury or illness, the use of cauterization or the use of Roentgen rays or radium for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.

“Low-level light laser therapy” means low-level light therapy having wave lengths that range from six hundred to one thousand nanometers.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 20-66

Delaware

"Practice of physical therapy" means:

Examining, evaluating, and testing patients/clients who have impairments of body structure or function, activity limitations or participation restrictions in physical movement and mobility, or other health and movement related conditions in order to determine a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of treatment intervention, and to assess the ongoing effects of intervention; and

Alleviating impairments of body structure or function, activity limitations or participation restrictions in physical movement and mobility by designing, implementing, and modifying treatment interventions that may include: therapeutic exercise, functional training related to physical movement and mobility in self-care and in home, community, or work integration or reintegration; gait and balance training; neurological re-education; vestibular training; manual, mechanical, and manipulative therapy, including soft tissue, musculoskeletal manipulation, and joint mobilization/manipulation; dry needling; therapeutic massage; the prescription, application, and, as appropriate, fabrication of assistive, adaptive, orthotic, prosthetic protective and supportive devices and equipment; airway clearance techniques; integumentary protection and repair techniques; nonsurgical debridement and wound care; evaluative and therapeutic physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient related instruction; and

Reducing the risk of impairments of body structure or function, activity limitations or participation restrictions in physical movement and mobility, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and wellness in populations of all ages; and

Engaging in administration, consultation, education, telehealth, and research.

24 Del. Laws § 2602

Florida

“Practice of physical therapy” means the performance of physical therapy assessments and the treatment of any disability, injury, disease, or other health condition of human beings, or the prevention of such disability, injury, disease, or other condition of health, and rehabilitation as related thereto by the use of the physical, chemical, and other properties of air; electricity; exercise; massage; the performance of acupuncture only upon compliance with the criteria set forth by the Board of Medicine, when no penetration of the skin occurs; the use of radiant energy, including ultraviolet, visible, and infrared rays; ultrasound; water; the use of apparatus and equipment in the application of the foregoing or related thereto; the performance of tests of neuromuscular functions as an aid to the diagnosis or treatment of any human condition; or the performance of electromyography as an aid to the diagnosis of any human condition only upon compliance with the criteria set forth by the Board of Medicine.

“Physical therapy assessment” means observational, verbal, or manual determinations of the function of the musculoskeletal or neuromuscular system relative to physical therapy, including, but not limited to, range of motion of a joint, motor power, postural attitudes, biomechanical function, locomotion, or functional abilities, for the purpose of making recommendations for treatment.

The use of roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization, are not “physical therapy”.

Fla. Stat. § 486.021

Georgia

"Physical therapy" means the care and services provided by or under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist who is licensed pursuant to this chapter. The term ‘physiotherapist’ shall be synonymous with ‘physical therapy’ pursuant to this chapter. The practice of physical therapy means:

Examining, evaluating, and testing patients and clients with mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, and disabilities or other movement related conditions in order to determine a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of intervention and to assess the ongoing effects of intervention;

Alleviating impairments of body structure or function by designing, implementing, and modifying interventions to improve activity limitations or participation restrictions for the purpose of preventing or reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, bodily malfunction, and pain;

Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, activity limitations, participation restrictions, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of health, fitness, and wellness in populations of all ages;

Planning, administering, evaluating, and modifying intervention and instruction, including the use of physical measures, activities, and devices, including but not limited to dry needling for preventative and therapeutic purposes; and

Engaging in administration, consultation, education, teaching, research, telehealth, and the provision of instructional, consultative, educational, and other advisory services.

Ga. Code Ann. § 43-33-3

Hawaii

"Physical therapy" or "physical therapy services" means the examination, treatment, and instruction of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability, bodily malfunction, pain from injury, disease, and any other physical or mental condition as performed by a physical therapist appropriately licensed under this chapter. It includes but is not limited to:

  • Administration, evaluation, modification of treatment, and instruction involving the use of physical measures, activities, and devices, for preventive and therapeutic purposes; provided that should the care or treatment given by a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant contravene treatment diagnosed or prescribed by a medical doctor, osteopath, or as determined by the board, the physical therapist shall confer with the professional regarding the manner or course of treatment in conflict and take appropriate action in the best interest of the patient; and
  • The provision of consultative, educational, and other advisory services for the purpose of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, bodily malfunction, or pain.

"Practice of physical therapy" includes, but is not limited to, the use of the following:

  • Physical agents, such as heat, cold, water, air, sound, compression, light, electricity, and electromagnetic radiation;
  • Exercise with or without devices, joint mobilization, mechanical stimulation; biofeedback; postural drainage; traction; positioning, massage, splinting, training in locomotion, and other functional activities with or without assisting devices; and correction of posture, body mechanics, and gait;
  • Tests and measurements of: muscle strength, force, endurance, and tone; joint motion, mobility, and stability; reflexes and automatic reaction; movement skill and accuracy; sensation and perception; peripheral nerve integrity; locomotor skill, stability, and endurance; activities of daily living; cardiac, pulmonary, and vascular functions; and fit, function, and comfort of prosthetic, orthotic, and other assisting devices; posture and body mechanics; limb strength, circumference, and volume; thoracic excursion and breathing patterns; vital signs; nature and locus of pain and conditions under which pain varies; photosensitivity; and the home and work physical environments.

HRS §461J-1

Idaho

"Practice of physical therapy" means the exercise of the profession of physical therapy by a person who engages in the following health care activities:

  • Examining, evaluating and testing individuals with mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations, and disability or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis for physical therapy and prognosis for physical therapy, plan of therapeutic intervention, and to assess the ongoing effects of intervention;
  • Alleviating impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing and modifying therapeutic interventions that include, but are not limited to: therapeutic exercise; functional mobility training in self-care and in-home, community or work reintegration; manual therapy; assistive, adaptive, protective and supportive devices and equipment; bronchopulmonary hygiene; debridement and wound care; physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient-related instruction; and to reduce the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age populations.

The practice of physical therapy shall not include the use of radiology, surgery or medical diagnosis of disease.  Specifically excluded are the ordering of electromyographic study, electrocardiography, thermography, invasive vascular study, selective injection tests, or complex cardiac or respiratory function studies without consultation and direction of a physician.

Idaho Code Ann. 54-2203

Illinois

"Physical therapy" means all of the following:

  • Examining, evaluating, and testing individuals who may have mechanical, physiological, or developmental impairments, functional limitations, disabilities, or other health and movement-related conditions, classifying these disorders, determining a rehabilitation prognosis and plan of therapeutic intervention, and assessing the ongoing effects of the interventions.
  • Alleviating impairments, functional limitations, or disabilities by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that may include, but are not limited to, the evaluation or treatment of a person through the use of the effective properties of physical measures and heat, cold, light, water, radiant energy, electricity, sound, and air and use of therapeutic massage, therapeutic exercise, mobilization, and rehabilitative procedures, with or without assistive devices, for the purposes of preventing, correcting, or alleviating a physical or mental impairment, functional limitation, or disability.
  • Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, or disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and wellness.
  • Engaging in administration, consultation, education, and research.

"Physical therapy" includes, but is not limited to:

  • Performance of specialized tests and measurements,
  • Administration of specialized treatment procedures,
  • Interpretation of referrals from physicians, dentists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, and podiatric physicians,
  • Establishment, and modification of physical therapy treatment programs,
  • Administration of topical medication used in generally accepted physical therapy procedures when such medication is either prescribed by the patient's physician, licensed to practice medicine in all its branches, the patient's physician licensed to practice podiatric medicine, the patient's advanced practice registered nurse, the patient's physician assistant, or the patient's dentist or used following the physician's orders or written instructions,
  • Supervision or teaching of physical therapy, and
  • Dry needling.

"Physical therapy" does not include radiology, electrosurgery, chiropractic technique or determination of a differential diagnosis; provided, however, the limitation on determining a differential diagnosis shall not in any manner limit a physical therapist licensed under this Act from performing an evaluation and establishing a physical therapy treatment plan pursuant to such license. Nothing in this Section shall limit a physical therapist from employing appropriate physical therapy techniques that he or she is educated and licensed to perform.

225 ILCS 90/1

Indiana

"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.

IC 25-27-1-1

Iowa

“Physical therapy” is that branch of science that deals with the evaluation and treatment of human capabilities and impairments. Physical therapy uses the effective properties of physical agents including, but not limited to, mechanical devices, heat, cold, air, light, water, electricity, and sound, and therapeutic exercises, and rehabilitative procedures to prevent, correct, minimize, or alleviate a physical impairment. Physical therapy includes the interpretation of performances, tests, and measurements, the establishment and modification of physical therapy programs, treatment planning, consultative services, instructions to the patients, and the administration and supervision attendant to physical therapy facilities.

A license to practice physical therapy does not authorize the licensee to practice operative surgery or osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation, or to administer or prescribe any drug or medicine included in materia medica.

Iowa Code § 148A.1

Kansas

"Physical therapy" means examining, evaluating and testing individuals with mechanical, anatomical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations and disabilities or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis solely for physical therapy, prognosis, plan of therapeutic intervention and to assess the ongoing effects of physical therapy intervention. Physical therapy also includes alleviating impairments, functional limitations and disabilities by designing, implementing and modifying therapeutic interventions that may include, but are not limited to, therapeutic exercise; functional training in community or work integration or reintegration; manual therapy; dry needling; therapeutic massage; prescription, application and, as appropriate, fabrication of assistive, adaptive, orthotic, prosthetic, protective and supportive devices and equipment; airway clearance techniques; integumentary protection and repair techniques; debridement and wound care; physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; patient-related instruction; reducing the risk of injury, impairments, functional limitations and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and quality of life in all age populations and engaging in administration, consultation, education and research. Physical therapy also includes the care and services provided by a physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist who is licensed pursuant to the physical therapy practice act.

Physical therapy does not include the use of roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization, the practice of any branch of the healing arts and the making of a medical diagnosis.

K.S.A. § 65-2901

Kentucky

"Physical therapy" means the use of selected knowledge and skills in planning, organizing, and directing programs for the care of individuals whose ability to function is impaired or threatened by disease or injury, encompassing preventive measures, screening, tests in aid of diagnosis by a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, chiropractic, or podiatry and evaluation and invasive or noninvasive procedures with emphasis on the skeletal system, neuromuscular and cardiopulmonary function, as it relates to physical therapy. Physical therapy includes screening or evaluations performed to determine the degree of impairment of relevant aspects, such as but not limited to nerve and muscle function including subcutaneous bioelectrical potentials, motor development, functional capacity, and respiratory or circulatory efficiency. Physical therapy also includes physical therapy treatment performed upon referral by a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, chiropractic, or podiatry, including but not limited to exercises for increasing or restoring strength, endurance, coordination and range of motion, stimuli to facilitate motor activity and learning, instruction in activities of daily living, and the use of assistive devices and the application of physical agents to relieve pain or alter physiological status.

The use of roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization and colonic irrigations are not authorized.

Ky. Rev. Stat. 327.010

Louisiana

"Practice of physical therapy" is the health care profession practiced by a physical therapist licensed under this Chapter and means the holding out of one's self to the public as a physical therapist and as being engaged in the business of, or the actual engagement in, the evaluation and treatment of any physical or medical condition to restore normal function of the neuromuscular and skeletal system, to relieve pain, or to prevent disability by use of physical or mechanical means, including therapeutic exercise, mobilization, passive manipulation, therapeutic modalities, and activities or devices for preventative, therapeutic, or medical purposes, and further shall include physical therapy evaluation, treatment planning, instruction, consultative services, and the supervision of physical therapy supportive personnel, including physical therapist assistants.

LSA-R.S. 37:2407

Maine

The practice of physical therapy includes the evaluation, treatment and instruction of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate and limit physical disability, bodily malfunction and pain from injury, disease and any other bodily condition; the administration, interpretation and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures for the purpose of treatment planning; the planning, administration, evaluation and modification of treatment and instruction; and the use of physical agents and procedures, activities and devices for preventive and therapeutic purposes; and the provision of consultative, educational and other advisory services for the purpose of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, bodily malfunction and pain.

A person licensed as a physical therapist under this chapter may, as part of an evaluation of a person in preparation for treatment by the physical therapist, perform a finger stick blood test in the person's home to assess blood clotting levels of that person. If a person licensed as a physical therapist performs a finger stick blood test pursuant to this section, that person shall communicate the test results to the prescribing health care practitioner. Only the health care practitioner may interpret the test results, determine whether a change is needed in the person's plan of care and make decisions with respect to medication adjustments. 

Physical therapists may not apply manipulative thrust to the vertebrae of the spine except upon consultation with, and referral by, a duly licensed doctor of medicine, surgery, chiropractic or osteopathy. A licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant may not administer drugs except upon the referral of a duly licensed doctor of medicine, surgery, osteopathy, podiatry or dentistry, and may not use roentgen rays or radium or use electricity for surgical purposes.

No medical diagnosis.  A physical therapist or physical therapist assistant may not make a medical diagnosis. The physical therapist or physical therapist assistant shall refer to a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, podiatry, dentistry or chiropractic a patient whose physical condition, either at the initial evaluation or during subsequent treatment, the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant determines to be beyond the scope of the practice of the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.

M.R.S. §3111-A

Maryland

"Practice physical therapy" includes:

  • Performing an evaluation of the physical therapy needs of patients or clients;
  • Performing and interpreting tests and measurements of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal functions to aid treatment;
  • Planning treatment programs that are based on test findings; and 
  • Administering therapeutic interventions that include: therapeutic exercise, therapeutic massage, mechanical devices, or therapeutic agents that use the physical, chemical, or other properties of air, water, electricity, sound, or radiant energy. 

"Practice physical therapy" does not include: 

  • Taking X rays;
  • Using Radioactive substances; or                           
  • Using Electricity for cauterization or surgery.   

Md. Code § 13-101

Massachusetts

''Physical therapy'', a health profession that utilizes the application of scientific principles for the identification, prevention, remediation and rehabilitation of acute or prolonged physical dysfunction thereby promoting optimal health and function. Physical therapy practice is evaluation, treatment and instruction related to neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory functions. Such evaluation shall include but is not limited to performance and interpretation of tests as an aid to the diagnosis or planning of treatment programs. Such treatment shall include but is not limited to the use of therapeutic exercise, physical activities, mobilization, functional and endurance training, traction, bronchopulmonary hygiene postural drainage, temporary splinting and bracing, massage, heat, cold, water, radiant energy, electricity or sound. Such instruction shall include teaching both patient and family physical therapy procedures as part of a patient's ongoing program. Physical therapy also shall include the delegating of selective forms of treatment to physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides; provided, however, that the physical therapist so delegating shall assume the responsibility for the care of the patient and the supervision of the physical therapist assistant or physical therapy aide.

M.G.L. Chapter 112, Sections 23A

Michigan

"Practice of physical therapy" means the evaluation of, education of, consultation with, or treatment of an individual by the employment of effective properties of physical measures and the use of therapeutic exercises and rehabilitative procedures, with or without assistive devices, for the purpose of preventing, correcting, or alleviating a physical or mental disability. Physical therapy includes treatment planning, performance of tests and measurements, interpretation of referrals, initiation of referrals, instruction, consultative services, and supervision of personnel. Physical measures include massage, mobilization, heat, cold, air, light, water, electricity, and sound. Practice of physical therapy does not include the identification of underlying medical problems or etiologies, establishment of medical diagnoses, or the prescribing of treatment.

Mich. Comp. Laws 333.17801 

Minnesota

"Physical therapy" means the evaluation or treatment or both of any person by the employment of physical measures and the use of therapeutic exercises and rehabilitative procedures, with or without assistive devices, for the purpose of preventing, correcting, or alleviating a physical or mental disability. Physical measures shall include but shall not be limited to heat or cold, air, light, water, electricity and sound. Physical therapy includes evaluation other than medical diagnosis, treatment planning, treatment, documentation, performance of appropriate tests and measurement, interpretation of orders or referrals, instruction, consultative services, and supervision of supportive personnel.

Minn Stat. 148.65

Mississippi

 “Physical therapy” or “physiotherapy,” which terms are deemed identical and interchangeable, means the art and science of a health specialty concerned with the prevention of disability, and the physical rehabilitation for congenital or acquired physical or mental disabilities, resulting from or secondary to injury or disease. The “practice of physical therapy” means the practice of the health specialty and encompasses physical therapy evaluation, treatment planning, treatment administration, instruction and consultative services, including:

  • Performing and interpreting tests and measurements as an aid to physical therapy treatment, for the purpose of correcting or alleviating any physical condition and to prevent the development of any physical or mental disability within the scope of physical therapy; and the performance of neuromuscular-skeletal tests and measurements as an aid in diagnosis, evaluation or determination of the existence of and the extent of any body malfunction;
  • Planning initial and subsequent treatment programs, on the basis of test findings; and
  • Administering treatment by therapeutic exercise, neurodevelopmental procedures, therapeutic massage, mechanical devices and therapeutic agents which employ the physical, chemical and other properties of air, water, heat, cold, electricity, sound and radiant energy for the purpose of correcting or alleviating any physical condition or preventing the development of any physical or mental disability.

The use of roentgen rays and radium for any purpose, and the use of electricity for surgical purposes including cauterization, are not part of physical therapy.

Miss. Code Ann. § 73-23-33

Missouri

"Practice of physical therapy", the examination, treatment and instruction of human beings to assess, prevent, correct, alleviate and limit physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction and pain from injury, disease and any other bodily condition, such term includes, but is not limited to, the administration, interpretation and evaluation of physical therapy tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures; the planning, administration, evaluation and modification of treatment and instruction, including the use of physical measures, activities and devices, for preventive and therapeutic purposes; and the provision of consultative, educational, research and other advisory services for the purpose of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction and pain does not include the use of surgery or obstetrics or the administration of x-radiation, radioactive substance, diagnostic x-ray, diagnostic laboratory electrocautery, electrosurgery or invasive tests or the prescribing of any drug or medicine or the administration or dispensing of any drug or medicine other than a topical agent administered or dispensed upon the direction of a physician.  Physical therapists may perform electromyography and nerve conduction tests but may not interpret the results of the electromyography or nerve conduction test. 

Mo. Rev. Stat. 334.500

Montana

"Physical therapy" means the evaluation, treatment, and instruction of human beings, in person or through telemedicine, to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability, bodily malfunction and pain, injury, and any bodily or mental conditions by the use of therapeutic exercise, prescribed topical medications, and rehabilitative procedures for the purpose of preventing, correcting, or alleviating a physical or mental disability.

Physical therapy evaluation includes the administration, interpretation, and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures; the development of a plan of treatment; consultative, educational, and other advisory services; and instruction and supervision of supportive personnel.

Treatment employs, for therapeutic effects, physical measures, activities and devices, for preventive and therapeutic purposes, exercises, rehabilitative procedures, massage, mobilization, and physical agents including but not limited to mechanical devices, heat, cold, air, light, water, electricity, and sound.

The evaluation and treatment procedures listed above may be performed by a licensed physical therapist without referral.

Mont. Code Ann. § 37-11-101; 37-11-104

Nebraska

Physical therapy or physiotherapy, defined. Physical therapy or physiotherapy means:

  • Examining, evaluating, and testing individuals with mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities or other conditions related to health and movement and, through analysis of the evaluative process, developing a plan of therapeutic intervention and prognosis while assessing the ongoing effects of the intervention;
  • Alleviating impairment, functional limitation, or disabilities by designing, implementing, or modifying therapeutic interventions which may include any of the following: Therapeutic exercise; functional training in home, community, or work integration or reintegration related to physical movement and mobility; therapeutic massage; mobilization or manual therapy; recommendation, application, and fabrication of assistive, adaptive, protective, and supportive devices and equipment; airway clearance techniques; integumentary protection techniques; nonsurgical debridement and wound care; physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient-related instruction; but which does not include the making of a medical diagnosis;
  • Purchasing, storing, and administering topical and aerosol medication in compliance with applicable rules and regulations of the Board of Pharmacy regarding the storage of such medication;
  • Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, or disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and wellness; and
  • Engaging in administration, consultation, education, and research. 

Neb. Rev. Stat. 38-2914

Nevada

“Practice of physical therapy”

Includes:

  • The performing and interpreting of tests and measurements as an aid to evaluation or treatment;
  • The planning of initial and subsequent programs of treatment on the basis of the results of tests; and
  • The administering of treatment through the use of therapeutic exercise and massage, the mobilization of joints by the use of therapeutic exercise without chiropractic adjustment, mechanical devices, and therapeutic agents which employ the properties of air, water, electricity, sound and radiant energy.

Does not include:

  • The diagnosis of physical disabilities;
  • The use of roentgenic rays or radium;
  • The use of electricity for cauterization or surgery; or
  • The occupation of a masseur who massages only the superficial soft tissues of the body.

NRS 640.024

New Hampshire

"Practice of physical therapy" or "practice of physiotherapy" means: 

Testing, examining and evaluating impairments, movement dysfunctions, and disabilities or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of intervention, and to assess the outcomes of intervention. 

Alleviating impairments, movement dysfunctions, and disabilities by designing and implementing, and modifying interventions that include, but are not limited to therapeutic exercise; training related to movement dysfunctions in self care and in home, community or work integration or reintegration; manual therapy including soft tissue and joint mobilization; therapeutic massage; assistive and adaptive orthotic, prosthetic, protective and supportive devices and equipment related to movement dysfunctions; airway clearance techniques; integumentary protection and repair techniques; debridement and wound care; physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient-related instruction. 

Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, movement dysfunctions and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of health, wellness, and fitness in populations of all ages. 

Engaging in administration, consultation, education and research. 

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 328-A:2

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, which shall include, but is not limited to, the alleviation of pain, physical impairment and movement-related functional limitation by therapeutic intervention, including treatment by means of manual therapy techniques and massage, electro-therapeutic modalities, wound debridement and care, 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, 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, and such other treatments and functions.

N.J.S.A. § 45:9-37.13

"Physical therapy and physical therapy practice" mean the identification of physical impairment or movement-related functional limitation 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;
  • 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;
  • 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

N.J.A.C. § 13:39A-2.1

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; or4) 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.

N.J.A.C. § 13:39A-2.2

New Mexico

"Practice of physical therapy" means:

  • Examining and evaluating patients with mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations and disabilities or other health-related conditions in order to determine a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis and planned therapeutic intervention;
  • Alleviating impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing and modifying therapeutic interventions that include therapeutic exercise; functional training in selfcare and community or work reintegration; manual therapy techniques, including soft tissue and joint mobilization and manipulation; therapeutic massage; assistive and adaptive devices and equipment; bronchopulmonary hygiene; debridement and wound care; physical agents; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient-related instruction;
  • Preventing injury, impairments, functional limitations and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and quality of life in all age populations; and
  • Engaging in consultation, testing, education and research;

N.M. Stat. § 61-12D-3

New York

Physical therapy is defined as:

  1. The evaluation, treatment or prevention of disability, injury, disease, or other condition of health using physical, chemical, and mechanical means including, but not limited to heat, cold, light, air, water, sound, electricity, massage, mobilization, and therapeutic exercise with or without assistive devices, and the performance and interpretation of tests and measurements to assess pathophysiological, pathomechanical, and developmental deficits of human systems to determine treatment, and assist in diagnosis and prognosis.
  2. The use of roentgen rays or radium, or the use of electricity for surgical purposes such as cauterization shall not be included in the practice of physical therapy.
  3. Such treatment shall be rendered pursuant to a referral which may be directive as to treatment by a licensed physician, dentist, podiatrist, nurse practitioner or licensed midwife, each acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, and in accordance with their diagnosis, except as provided in subdivision d of this section.
  4. Such treatment may be rendered by a licensed physical therapist for ten (10) visits or thirty (30) days, whichever shall occur first, without a referral from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, nurse practitioner or licensed midwife provided that:
    1. The licensed physical therapist has practiced physical therapy on a full time basis equivalent to not less than three years.
    2. Each physical therapist licensed pursuant to this article shall provide written notice to each patient receiving treatment absent a referral from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, nurse practitioner or licensed midwife that physical therapy may not be covered by the patient's health care plan or insurer without such a referral and that such treatment may be a covered expense if rendered pursuant to a referral. The physical therapist shall keep on file with the patient's records a form attesting to the patient's notice of such advice. Such form shall be in duplicate, with one copy to be retained by the patient, signed and dated by both the physical therapist and the patient in such form as prescribed pursuant to regulations promulgated by the commissioner.

N.Y. Law § 6731

North Carolina

The practice of physical therapy includes tests of joint motion, muscle length and strength, posture and gait, limb length and circumference, activities of daily living, pulmonary function, cardio-vascular function, nerve and muscle electrical properties, orthotic and prosthetic fit and function, sensation and sensory perception, reflexes and muscle tone, and sensorimotor and other skilled performances; treatment procedures such as hydrotherapy, shortwave or microwave diathermy, ultrasound, infra-red and ultraviolet radiation, cryotherapy, electrical stimulation including transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation, massage, debridement, intermittent vascular compression, iontophoresis, machine and manual traction of the cervical and lumbar spine, joint mobilization, machine and manual therapeutic exercise including isokinetics and biofeedback; and training in the use of orthotic, prosthetic and other assistive devices including crutches, canes and wheelchairs.

Physical therapy further includes: examining (history, system review and tests and measures) individuals in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention within the physical therapist's scope of practice.

Tests and measures include the following:

  • aerobic capacity and endurance;
  • anthropometric characteristics;
  • arousal, attention, and cognition;
  • assistive and adaptive devices;
  • community and work (job/school/play) integration or reintegration;
  • cranial nerve integrity;
  • environmental, home, and work (job/school/play) barriers;
  • ergonomics and body mechanics;
  • gait, locomotion, and balance;
  • integumentary integrity;
  • joint integrity and mobility;
  • motor function;
  • muscle performance;
  • neuromotor development and sensory integration;
  • orthotic, protective and supportive devices;
  • pain;
  • posture;
  • prosthetic requirements;
  • range of motion;
  • reflex integrity;
  • self-care and home management;
  • sensory integrity; and
  • ventilation, respiration, and circulation.

Alleviating impairment and functional limitation by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that include the following:

  • coordination, communication and documentation;
  • patient/client-related instruction;
  • therapeutic exercise (including aerobic conditioning);
  • functional training in self-care and home management (including activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living);
  • functional training in community and work (jobs/school/play) integration or reintegration activities (including instrumental activities of daily living, work hardening, and work conditioning);
  • manual therapy techniques (including mobilization and manipulation);
  • prescription, application, and fabrication of assistive, adaptive, orthotic, protective, supportive, and prosthetic devices and equipment that is within the scope of practice of physical therapy;
  • airway clearance techniques;
  • wound management;
  • electrotherapeutic modalities; and
  • physical agents and mechanical modalities.

Preventing injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age populations.

21 NCAC 48C .0101

North Dakota

"Practice of physical therapy" means:

Examining, evaluating, and testing individuals with mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments, functional limitations in movement and mobility, and disabilities or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis for physical therapy, prognosis, and plan of therapeutic intervention, and to assess the ongoing effects of intervention.

Alleviating impairments, functional limitations in movement and mobility, and disabilities by designing, implementing and modifying therapeutic interventions that may include, but are not limited to, therapeutic exercise; neuromuscular education; functional training related to positioning, movement, and mobility in self-care and in-home, community, or work integration or reintegration; manual therapy; therapeutic massage; prescription, application and, as appropriate, fabrication of assistive, adaptive, orthotic, prosthetic, protective, and supportive devices and equipment related to positioning, movement, and mobility; airway clearance techniques; integumentary protection and repair techniques; debridement and wound care; physiotherapy; physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient-related instruction.

Engaging as a physical therapist in reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and wellness in populations of all ages.

Engaging as a physical therapist in administration, consultation, education, and research.

N.D. Cent. Code § 43-26.1-01

Ohio

“Physical therapy” means the evaluation and treatment of a person by physical measures and the use of therapeutic exercises and rehabilitative procedures, with or without assistive devices, for the purpose of preventing, correcting, or alleviating any disability. If performed by a person who is adequately trained, physical therapy includes all of the following:

The design, fabrication, revision, education, and instruction in the use of various assistive devices including braces, splints, ambulatory or locomotion devices, wheelchairs, prosthetics, and orthotics;

The administration of topical drugs that have been prescribed by a licensed health professional authorized to prescribe drugs, as defined in section 4729.01 of the Revised Code;

The establishment and modification of physical therapy programs, treatment planning, patient education and instruction, and consultative services;

Physiotherapy. Physical measures include massage, heat, cold, air, light, water, electricity, sound, and the performance of test of neuromuscular function as an aid to such treatment. Physical therapy does not include the medical diagnosis of a patient’s disability, the use of Roentgen rays or radium for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, or the use of electricity for cauterization or other surgical purposes.

Ohio Rev. Code § 4755.40

Oklahoma

“Practice of physical therapy” means the use of selected knowledge and skills in planning, organizing and directing programs for the care of individuals whose ability to function is impaired or threatened by disease or injury, encompassing preventive measures, screening, tests in aid of diagnosis by a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, dentistry or podiatry, or a physician assistant, and evaluation and invasive or noninvasive procedures with emphasis on the skeletal system, neuromuscular and cardiopulmonary function, as it relates to physical therapy. Physical therapy includes screening or evaluations performed to determine the degree of impairment of relevant aspects such as, but not limited to, nerve and muscle function including transcutaneous bioelectrical potentials, motor development, functional capacity and respiratory or circulatory efficiency. Physical therapy also includes physical therapy treatment performed including, but not limited to, exercises for increasing or restoring strength, endurance, coordination and range of motion, stimuli to facilitate motor activity and learning, instruction in activities of daily living and the use of assistive devices and the application of physical agents to relieve pain or alter physiological status.

The use of roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization and colonic irrigations are not authorized under the term "physical therapy".

Okla. Stat. tit. 887.2

Oregon

“Practice of physical therapy” means:

  • Examining, evaluating and testing for mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations and disabilities or other neuromusculoskeletal conditions in order to determine a physical therapy diagnosis or prognosis or a plan of physical therapy intervention and to assess the ongoing effects of physical therapy intervention.
  • Alleviating impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing, administering and modifying physical therapy interventions.
  • Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation and disability by physical therapy interventions that may include as a component the promotion and maintenance of health, fitness and quality of life in all age populations.
  • Consulting or providing educational services to a patient.

Or. Rev. Stat. § 688.010

“Physical therapy intervention” means a treatment or procedure and includes but is not limited to: therapeutic exercise; gait and locomotion training; neuromuscular reeducation; manual therapy techniques (including manual lymphatic drainage, manual traction, connective tissue and therapeutic massage, mobilization/manipulation of soft tissue or spinal or peripheral joints, and passive range of motion); functional training related to physical movement and mobility in self-care and home management (including activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL)); functional training related to physical movement and mobility in work (job/school/play), community, and leisure integration or reintegration (including IADL, work hardening, and work conditioning); prescription, application, and, as appropriate, fabrication of devices and equipment (assistive, adaptive, orthotic, protective, or supportive); airway clearance techniques; integumentary repair and protective techniques; electrotherapeutic modalities; physical agents and mechanical modalities; and patient related instruction and education.

OAR 848-040-0100

Pennsylvania

"Physical therapy" means any of the following:

The evaluation, examination and testing of individuals with mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations and disabilities, other health-related or movement-related conditions, performed to determine a diagnosis, prognosis and plan of treatment intervention within the scope of this act or to assess the ongoing effects of intervention.

The performance of tests and measurements as an aid in diagnosis or evaluation of function and the treatment of the individual through the utilization of the effective properties of physical measures such as mechanical stimulation, heat, cold, light, air, water, electricity, sound, massage or mobilization-manual therapy.

The use of therapeutic exercises and rehabilitative procedures, including training in functional activities, with or without the utilization of assistive devices, for the purpose of limiting or preventing disability and alleviating or correcting any physical or mental conditions.

Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and wellness in populations of all ages as well as engaging in administration, consultation, education and research.

Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Act § 2

Rhode Island

"Practice of physical therapy" means:

  • Examination, evaluation, treatment, and instruction of patients/clients to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability, physical dysfunction, and pain from injury, disease, and any other bodily conditions;
  • Administration, interpretation, and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures;
  • The planning, administration, evaluation, and modification of treatment and instruction, including the use of physical measures, activities, and devices, for preventive and therapeutic purposes; and
  • The provision of consultative, educational, and other advisory services for the purpose of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, physical dysfunction, and pain;

The practice of physical therapy does not include the practice of medicine as defined in chapter 37 of this title.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-40-1

South Carolina

"The practice of physical therapy" means the evaluation and treatment of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability, bodily malfunction, and pain from injury, disease, and any other bodily or mental condition and includes the administration, interpretation, documentation, and evaluation of physical therapy tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures; the establishment, administration, evaluation, and modification of a physical therapy treatment plan which includes the use of physical, chemical, or mechanical agents, activities, instruction, and devices for prevention and therapeutic purposes; and the provision of consultation and educational and other advisory services for the purpose of preventing or reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, bodily malfunction, and pain.

The use of roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization and colonic irrigations, are not authorized under the term "physical therapy" as used in this chapter, and nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize a physical therapist to prescribe medications or order laboratory or other medical tests.

S.C. Code Ann. 40-45-20

South Dakota

Physical therapy defined. For the purposes of this chapter, the practice of physical therapy is the examination and evaluation of patients with mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments, functional limitation, and disability or other similar conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic intervention; alleviation of impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that include therapeutic exercise, functional training in community or work reintegration, manual therapy techniques including soft tissue and joint mobilization, assistive and adaptive devices and equipment, brochopulmonary hygiene, debridement and wound care, physical agents and mechanical modalities, therapeutic massage, electrotherapeutic modalities, and patient-related instruction; prevention of injury, impairments, functional limitations, and disability including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age populations; and consultation, education, and research.

SD Codified L § 36-10-18.1

Tennessee

"Practice of physical therapy" means:

Examining, evaluating and testing individuals with mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations and disability or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a physical therapy treatment diagnosis, prognosis, a plan of therapeutic intervention and to assess the ongoing effect of intervention;

Alleviating impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that include, but are not limited to, therapeutic exercise, functional training, manual therapy, therapeutic massage, assistive and adaptive orthotic, prosthetic, protective and supportive equipment, airway clearance techniques, debridement and wound care, physical agents or modalities, dry needling, mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities and patient-related instruction;

Reducing the risk of injury, impairments, functional limitation and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and quality of life in all age populations; and

Engaging in administration, consultation, education and research;

The scope of practice of physical therapy shall not include the performance of treatment where the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant uses direct thrust to move a joint of the patient's spine beyond its normal range of motion without exceeding the limits of anatomical integrity.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 63-13-103

Texas

Physical therapy--The evaluation, examination, and utilization of exercises, rehabilitative procedures, massage, manipulations, and physical agents including, but not limited to, mechanical devices, heat, cold, air, light, water, electricity, and sound in the aid of diagnosis or treatment. Physical therapists may perform evaluations without referrals. Physical therapy practice includes the use of modalities, procedures, and tests to make evaluations. Physical therapy practice includes, but is not limited to the use of: Electromyographic (EMG) Tests, Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Tests, Thermography, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), bed traction, application of topical medication to open wounds, sharp debridement, provision of soft goods, inhibitive casting and splinting, Phonophoresis, Iontophoresis, and biofeedback services.

Tex. Occ. Code §321.1

Utah

"Physical therapy" or "physiotherapy" means:

  • Examining, evaluating, and testing an individual who has a physical impairment or injury;
  • Identifying or labeling a physical impairment or injury;
  • Formulating a therapeutic intervention plan for the treatment of a physical impairment, injury, or pain;
  • Assessing the ongoing effects of therapeutic intervention for the treatment of a physical impairment or injury;
  • Treating or alleviating a physical impairment by designing, modifying, or implementing a therapeutic intervention;
  • Reducing the risk of an injury or physical impairment;
  • Providing instruction on the use of physical measures, activities, or devices for preventative and therapeutic purposes;
  • Promoting and maintaining health and fitness;
  • The administration of a prescription drug pursuant to Section 58-24b-403;
  • Subject to Subsection 58-28-307(12)(b), engaging in the functions described in Subsections (10)(a)(i) through (ix) in relation to an animal, in accordance with the requirements of Section 58-24b-405; and
  • Engaging in administration, consultation, education, and research relating to the practice of physical therapy

"Physical therapy" or "physiotherapy" does not include:

  • Diagnosing disease;
  • Performing surgery;
  • Performing acupuncture;
  • Taking x-rays; or
  • Prescribing or dispensing a drug.

Utah Code § 58-24b-102

Vermont

"Practice of physical therapy" means:

Examining, evaluating, and testing, in order to determine a plan of care inclusive of appropriate therapeutic interventions and expected outcome and effect of the interventions of individuals with:

  • Mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments;
  • Functional limitations in physical movement and mobility;
  • Disabilities; and
  • Other movement-related conditions;

Alleviating impairments and functional limitations in physical movement and mobility and disabilities by developing, implementing, and modifying treatment interventions; or

Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability related to physical movement and mobility, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and wellness related to movement and function. 

26 V.S.A. § 2081a

Virginia

"Practice of physical therapy" means that branch of the healing arts that is concerned with, upon medical referral and direction, the evaluation, testing, treatment, reeducation and rehabilitation by physical, mechanical or electronic measures and procedures of individuals who, because of trauma, disease or birth defect, present physical and emotional disorders. The practice of physical therapy also includes the administration, interpretation, documentation, and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures within the scope of practice of the physical therapist.

The practice of physical therapy does not include the medical diagnosis of disease or injury, the use of roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes or the use of electricity for shock therapy and surgical purposes including cauterization.

Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-3473

Washington

"Practice of physical therapy" is based on movement science and means:

  • Examining, evaluating, and testing individuals with mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments, functional limitations in movement, and disability or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, plan of therapeutic intervention, and to assess and document the ongoing effects of intervention;
  • Alleviating impairments and functional limitations in movement by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that include therapeutic exercise; functional training related to balance, posture, and movement to facilitate self-care and reintegration into home, community, or work; manual therapy including soft tissue and joint mobilization and manipulation; therapeutic massage; assistive, adaptive, protective, and devices related to postural control and mobility except as restricted by (c) of this subsection; airway clearance techniques; physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient-related instruction;
  • Training for, and the evaluation of, the function of a patient wearing an orthosis or prosthesis. Physical therapists may provide those direct-formed and prefabricated upper limb, knee, and ankle-foot orthoses, but not fracture orthoses except those for hand, wrist, ankle, and foot fractures, and assistive technology devices as exemptions from the defined scope of licensed orthotic and prosthetic services. It is the intent of the legislature that the unregulated devices are in the public domain to the extent that they may be provided in common with individuals or other health providers, whether unregulated or regulated under this title , without regard to any scope of practice;
  • Performing wound care services that are limited to sharp debridement, debridement with other agents, dry dressings, wet dressings, topical agents including enzymes, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and other similar treatments. Physical therapists may not delegate sharp debridement. A physical therapist may perform wound care services only by referral from or after consultation with an authorized health care practitioner;
  • Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability related to movement, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age populations; and
  • Engaging in administration, consultation, education, and research.

RCW 18.74.010

West Virginia

A physical therapist may:

Examine, evaluate and test patients or clients with mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities or other health and movement related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis and plan of treatment intervention, and to assess the ongoing effects of intervention: Provided, That electromyography examination and electrodiagnostic studies other than the determination of chronaxia and strength duration curves shall not be performed except under the supervision of a physician electromyographer and electrodiagnostician;

Alleviate impairments, functional limitations and disabilities by designing, implementing and modifying treatment interventions that may include, but are not limited to: therapeutic exercise; functional training in self-care in relation to motor control function; mobility; in home, community or work integration or reintegration; manual therapy techniques including mobilization of the joints; therapeutic massage; fabrication of assistive, adaptive, orthothic, prosthetic, protective and supportive devices and equipment; airway clearance techniques; integumentary protection and repair techniques; patient-related instruction; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and physical agent or modalities including, but not limited to, heat, cold, light, air, water and sound;

Reduce the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and wellness in populations of all ages; and

Engage in administration, consultation and research.

W. Va. Code §30-20-9

Wisconsin

“Physical therapy" means, except as provided in par. (b), any of the following:

  • Examining, evaluating, or testing individuals with mechanical, physiological, or developmental impairments, functional limitations related to physical movement and mobility, disabilities, or other movement-related health conditions, in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, or plan of therapeutic intervention or to assess the ongoing effects of intervention. In this subdivision, “testing" means using standardized methods or techniques for gathering data about a patient.
  • Alleviating impairments or functional limitations by instructing patients or designing, implementing, or modifying therapeutic interventions.
  • Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, or disability, including by promoting or maintaining fitness, health, or quality of life in all age populations.
  • Engaging in administration, consultation, or research that is related to any activity specified.

 “Physical therapy" does not include any of the following:

  • Using roentgen rays or radium for any purpose, except that “physical therapy" includes ordering X-rays to be performed by qualified persons and using X-ray results to determine a course of care or to determine whether a referral to another health care provider is necessary.
  • Using electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization.
  • Prescribing drugs or devices.

Wis. Stat. § 448.50

Wyoming

"Physical therapy" or "physiotherapy" means the care and services provided by or under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist or physiotherapist who is licensed pursuant to this act. The practice of physical therapy includes:

Examining, evaluating and testing persons with mechanical, physiological or developmental impairments, functional limitations, disabilities or other health or movement related conditions to determine a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis or plan of treatment and assessing the ongoing effects of intervention;

Alleviating impairments, functional limitations or disabilities by designing,

implementing or modifying treatment interventions that may include but are not limited to:

(I) Therapeutic exercise;

(II) Functional activities in the home;

(III) Community or work integration or reintegration;

(IV) Manual therapy, which includes mobilization and grades I through

IV manipulation of joints and soft tissue but does not include grade V manipulations without completion of advanced training requirements as determined by the board;

(V) Therapeutic massage;

(VI) Prescription, application or fabrication of appropriate assistive, adaptive, protective or supportive devices or equipment;

(VII) Airway clearance techniques;

(VIII) Integumentary protection or repair techniques;

(IX) Wound care;

(X) Application of physical agents or modalities;

(XI) Mechanical modalities;

(XII) Patient related instruction.

Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation or disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and wellness.

Wyo. Stat. Ann. 33-25-101


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