Colorado Enacts Enhancements to Physical Therapy Act

Senate Bill 169 certifies PTAs, creates independent licensing board, among other benefits 

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 19, 2011 — Legislation signed into law last week in Colorado moves the physical therapy profession forward while ensuring public protection and direct access to physical therapists. Senate Bill 169, signed May 13 by Gov John Hickenlooper, is a major legislative achievement and the culmination of several years of advocacy work by the Colorado Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Senate Bill 169 reconfirms the unrestricted direct access of physical therapists (PTs) in Colorado. It also re-establishes an independent rule-promulgating physical therapy licensing board to replace the 7-member advisory committee currently operating under the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. The new board will consist of 5 licensed PTs and 2 public members appointed by the governor. The newly created board will be responsible for drafting rules on continued competency of PTs and physical therapist assistants (PTAs).

The new law also authorizes the physical therapy board to certify PTAs and offers title protection for them for the first time in Colorado’s history. Colorado is currently 1 of 2 states that has no regulation of PTAs. In order to qualify for certification as a PTA, an applicant must pass the national examination and complete an educational program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Alternatively, applicants can qualify for certification by endorsement.

Additionally, SB 169 requires PTs to maintain professional liability insurance to practice in Colorado and expands the PT's scope of practice to include all components of wound care.

“These additions to the PT practice act help position physical therapists and physical therapist assistants under the supervision of physical therapists for autonomous practice currently and in the future,” says Amy Hammerich, PT, DPT, president of APTA's Colorado Chapter, who was present for the signing of the bill along with other chapter members. "Many thanks go to chapter members and Colorado Sunset Committee Co-chairs Marcia Smith, PT, PhD, and Marty Lavine, PT, for their tireless efforts in getting this important legislation passed."

SB 169 becomes law July 1 and remains in place through 2018. 

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 77,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook.