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Tennessee PT Scope of Practice

The Practice of Physical Therapy

"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

Manual Therapy Techniques

Consist of a broad group of passive interventions in which physical therapists use their hands to administer skilled movements designed to modulate pain; increase joint range of motion; reduce or eliminate soft tissue swelling, inflammation, or restriction; induce relaxation; improve contractile and noncontractile tissue extensibility; and improve pulmonary functions. These interventions involve a variety of techniques, such as the application of graded forces, which are not performed beyond the joint’s normal range of motion. These interventions may be applied to all joints of the body as deemed appropriate.

What services are expressly prohibited?

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.

Fingerstick Techniques

The Tennessee Board of Physical Therapy takes the position that performing fingerstick techniques (such as glucometer readings, coumadin readings, etc.) is within the scope of practice of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant licensed in the State of Tennessee, so long as such activities are performed and called for during the course of the practice of physical therapy as provided under Tennessee Code Annotated § 63-13-301 et seq.

This policy in no way abrogates the duty to refer patients to appropriate health care practitioners as set forth under Tennessee Code Annotated § 63-13-302.

The Board of Physical Therapy is adopting this policy for the protection of patients from harm, to enhance the care provided by licensees, and to provide guidance to licensees.

The Board of Physical Therapy adopted the above policy on August 20, 2010.


Tenn. Code Ann. § 63-13-103

Tenn. Code Ann. § 63-13-104

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 1150-01-.01

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