RC 5-17: Components of the Physical Therapist Scope of Practice

Treadmill StartThe House of Delegates (HOD) will review a change in the wording of the physical therapist scope of practice. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) originally proposed three components including personal, jurisdictional, and professional. The APTA defines each of these components separately.

One’s personal scope should include, “their own personal knowledge, skills, and abilities.” The APTA emphasizes that one should not provide a type of treatment or skill that they have not been trained in or have the knowledge base for.

A PTs jurisdictional scope is determined by the state in which they are licensed and practice in. That state’s practice act will include what a PT may or may not legally perform as treatment.

The professional scope is currently defined as, “the profession’s unique body of knowledge, supported by educational preparation, a body of evidence, and existing or emerging practice frameworks.” This definition has been proposed to change in RC 6-17.

Throughout the efforts to define the components of the physical therapist scope of practice, the APTA has now proposed to change the language to the “Physical Therapist Scope of Practice Definition.” This definition will still include the three components described above.

So what’s new? Why change? The physical therapist scope of practice is ever changing. A change in the language of the scope will allow physical therapists to evolve with their society and its needs. Whether there is a change in jurisdictional laws or advancements in research and technology, this language will allow a physical therapist to adapt and include the most up to date, evidence-based treatment in their practice.



American Physical Therapy Association. Packet I: Reference Committee 1-17. Alexandria, VA. 2016:16-18.

Gardner K. Personal Scope of Physical Therapist Practice. http://www.apta.org/ScopeOfPractice/Personal/. Accessed May 19, 2017.

The Hub : Forums : RC 5-17 Adopt: Components of the PT Scope of Practice. http://communities.apta.org/p/fo/st/thread=5532. Accessed May 21, 2017.

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