Disability PlacardThis motion, proposed by the Massachusetts chapter of the APTA, and cosponsored by the California Chapter and Sports Section amends by broadening the current wording of APTA’s position statement related to mobility status which was adopted by the House of Delegates in 2014. The current position reads as below:

The American Physical Therapy Association supports increased consumer access to mobility status certification. As movement experts, physical therapists should be included in state law among the health care professionals designated as able to determine the mobility status of a patient or client for the purposes of disability parking placards or license plates. In addition, transit authorities should include physical therapists among those able to determine eligibility for paratransit services.

The change would amend it to read:

The American Physical Therapy Association supports increased societal access to physical therapists for disability evaluation/determination for health, recreation, employment, legal, regulatory, and insurance purposes.

Disability evaluation is an official term used by multiple agencies including the American Medical Association, the Department of Defense and the Social Security Administration. Currently, none of these agencies in their definitions of disability evaluation either explicitly allow nor prohibit PTs from performing them.

Supporters of this motion believe that broadening the language associated with this position will ultimately facilitate greater consumer access and service given the broad role PT’s play in disability evaluation and management.  Some current examples of physical therapists providing disability determination services are: return to work, Para-transit qualifications, disability placard/license plate determination, return to play/sport, worksite accommodations, job duty accommodations, legal compensation, and qualification for insurance or government benefits.  Differences certainly exist in the scope and extent of these services across state lines. A broader, more inclusive Position Statement on the Physical Therapists role in mobility status certification is a great thing. How that position statement ultimately impacts policy and regulation at the state and agency level remains to be seen. What do you think? Let us hear your opinion and follow us on Facebook here.