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Pennsylvania PT Scope of Practice

How is physical therapy defined in Pennsylvania?

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.

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

What is included in the practice of physical therapy?

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.

What is specifically excluded from the practice?

The practice of physical therapy shall not include the practice of chiropractic medicine.

Administration of electroneuromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests

EMG and NCV—studies and evaluations—shall be conducted only upon the referral of a physician.

A licensed physical therapist may not diagnose from the results of the tests but may prepare a statement of his impression of the results of the test to be forwarded to the referring physician for his review and diagnosis.

Transdermal administration of drugs

A physical therapist may perform transdermal administration of drugs through the use of modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation. If a prescriptive medication is used, the medication must be prescribed by the referring physician and dispensed in the name of the patient by the referring physician or pharmacist. Between treatment sessions, drugs must be properly stored in a manner consistent with pharmaceutical practice. After the patient is discharged, the remaining drugs must be disposed of by the physical therapist or returned to the patient.


63 P.S. § 1303

49 Pa. Code §40.51

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