Arizona Legislation Includes Dry Needling in Physical Therapy Scope or Practice

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 1, 2014 — On April 25, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1154, legislation that amends the Arizona physical therapy statute to specifically add dry needling to the physical therapist scope of practice.

The legislation, sponsored by Arizona state senator Kelli Ward (R-5), was sought by the Arizona Physical Therapy Association, a chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), following 3 years of challenges, hard work, and debate, including a statewide task force that held numerous meetings and public hearings.

"Many legislators, educators, professionals, and patients were involved in crafting this bill to satisfy the concerns brought forward from outside the physical therapy profession," said Linda Duke, PT, president of the Arizona Chapter. "We are so thankful for the many individuals who helped in this effort."

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. It is recognized as being part of the legal scope of practice for physical therapists in a majority of US jurisdictions. SB 1154, which passed through the House and Senate by wide-margins, was a compromise with other groups that were opposed to physical therapists performing dry needling.

"This could not have been achieved if it weren't for our members, participants on the chapter's dry needling task force, and the Manual Physical Therapy Alliance (MPTA)," said Duke. "I want to give special thanks to Sara Demeure, PT, MSPT, OCS, and Sean Flannagan, PT, DPT, who were key throughout this process."

"The American Physical Therapy Association applauds the team effort in Arizona that advocated in support of SB 1154," said APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS. "Working together, we can ensure that the patients we serve have access to the full scope of physical therapist services."

SB 1154 includes language giving the Arizona State Board of Physical Therapy the authority to promulgate rules outlining training and education qualifications for dry needling performed by physical therapists.

The Arizona Physical Therapy Association represents more than 1,745 members of APTA.

The American Physical Therapy Association represents more than 88,000 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.

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