RC 5-17 defines the components of the physical therapist scope of practice as personal, jurisdictional, and professional. RC 6-17 is an effort to better define the professional scope of practice. Currently, the professional scope reads as:

The profession’s unique body of knowledge, supported by educational preparation, a body of evidence, and existing or emerging practice frameworks.

 A new, more extensive definition will read:

Physical therapists’ professional scope of practice consists of patient and client management including diagnosis and prognosis to restore, correct, maintain, and maximize physical function, movement, performance, health, quality of life and to prevent, minimize, and mitigate the effects of disease, injury, congenital abnormalities, as well as other health conditions during the patient and client lifespan.

Physical therapists’ professional scope of practice is grounded in basic and clinical sciences. It is supported by educational preparation, based on a body of evidence, and linked to existing and emerging practice frameworks. Physical therapists’ professional scope of practice evolves in response to innovation, research, collaboration and changes in societal needs

kettle bells

There are both pros and cons to this change in language that has been proposed. This new definition allows for our scope to continue evolving, includes diagnosis, and prevention. Physical therapists are “movement specialists” and this definition emphasizes our role as such throughout an individual’s lifespan.

On the other hand, this new proposal is very broad and those against this change worry that it could be applied to a number of health care providers outside of the physical therapy realm. If someone in the general public wanted to research specifically what a physical therapist can provide, this definition may not give them the answers they are looking for. While there is a mention of prevention, some believe that there needs to be a better explanation of the importance of preventative therapy.

The professional scope of practice is the only component of the three that is up for a makeover. Members of the APTA Board of Directors believe the definitions of personal and jurisdictional scope are straightforward enough to remain the same. For more information, check out our post on the components of physical therapist practice proposed in RC 5-17 here. Have comments? Follow us and start a discussion on our Facebook page.

References:

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

Gardner K. Professional Scope of Physical Therapist Practice. http://www.apta.org/ScopeOfPractice/Professional/. Accessed May 25, 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 25, 2017.

The Hub : Forums : RC 6-17 Adopt: Definition of Professional Scope of PT Practice. http://communities.apta.org/p/fo/st/thread=4857. Accessed May 26, 2017.