In analyzing the level of term protection available in a particular jurisdiction, a number of issues must be considered. Some jurisdictions expressly limit the use of terms such as physical therapy, physiotherapy, physical therapist, and physiotherapist to those individuals who are licensed pursuant to the jurisdiction's physical therapy practice act. Conversely, other jurisdictions do not expressly protect the use of all of these terms, but rather they imply that the use of such terms is limited to use by a licensed physical therapist. For example, statutory language in a jurisdiction may provide that an individual cannot hold himself or herself out as practicing physical therapy unless licensed. This language arguably implies that the term "physical therapy" cannot be used by an individual who is not licensed as this would be holding themselves out to the public as practicing physical therapy. The jurisdictions also vary in their protection of physical therapy related abbreviations. Some jurisdictions protect the use of a broad list of designating abbreviations (eg, PT, DPT, RPT, LPT, and any other letters, words, or insignia indicating or implying that an individual is a physical therapist).
In addition to strictly protecting the use of the terms themselves, some jurisdictions also limit other related activities. For example, certain jurisdictions contain an expressed limitation on the ability of an individual or entity to bill for a service as "physical therapy" when it is not provided by or under the direction of a licensed physical therapist. As another example, a number of jurisdictions expressly prohibit advertising for the provision of physical therapy services where a physical therapist does not provide or supervise the care provided. When determining the strength of term protection afforded to physical therapy in a particular jurisdiction, consideration of the above issues should serve as a good starting point for such an analysis.
Review some of the basic findings of the status of term and title protection in the states with this summary chart (.pdf).