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Washington PT Scope of Practice

How is physical therapy defined in 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;
    • 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.

What is included in the practice of physical therapy?

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;
    • Airway clearance techniques;
    • Physical agents or modalities;
    • Mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and
    • Patient-related instruction.

Orthosis or Prosthesis

Training for, and the evaluation of, the function of a patient wearing an orthosis or prosthesis. PTs 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.

Wound Care

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.

PTs may not delegate sharp debridement. A PT may perform wound care services only by referral from or after consultation with an authorized health care practitioner.

What is specifically excluded from the practice?

The use of Roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization, and the use of spinal manipulation, or manipulative mobilization of the spine and its immediate articulations, are not included under the term "physical therapy".

Are there any special trainings or requirements?

Washington PT Sharp Debridement

Washington PT Electroneuromyography Examinations

Washington PT Spinal Manipulation

Washington PT Topical Medications


RCW 18.74.010

RCW 18.74.160

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