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PTs and PTAs have an ethical responsibility to act in cases of suspected abuse of a family member, obligations clearly spelled out in the Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist (4D) and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant (4D).

NOTE: If you have an immediate question or concern about family violence, consult the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453 or the National Domestic Abuse Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

Learn More About the Role of the PT and PTA

Recognizing and Providing Care for Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect. This online course covers APTA guidelines and explores the role that PTs and PTAs have in identifying, treating, and advocating for children who are abused.

Recognizing and Providing Care for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (Second Edition). The rapport that a PT or PTA develops with a patient may facilitate the revelation of abuse by that patient—it could even save a life. This course provides updated guidance from APTA.

Additional Resources

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline website. The hotline's website offers resources that include a local child protective services lookup and downloadable posters, in English and Spanish, that emphasize the importance of reporting.

National Domestic Violence Hotline website. In addition to presenting multiple ways to contact the hotline, the website includes information that helps visitors identify abuse, learn about health relationships, and access more resources.

American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. Website of the national organization focused on meeting the needs of professionals engaged in all aspects of services for maltreated children and their families.

Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence: Womenshealth.gov. From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a wealth of information and resources that include guidance on getting a restraining order, leaving an abusive relationship, and effects on children.


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