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The scope of practice for physical therapists is dynamic, evolving with evidence, education, and societal needs.

The scope of practice for physical therapists has three components: professional, jurisdictional, and personal.

The professional scope of practice is grounded in the profession’s unique body of knowledge, supported by educational preparation, based on a body of evidence, and linked to existing or emerging practice frameworks.

The jurisdictional (i.e., legal) scope of practice is established by a state's practice act governing the specific physical therapist’s license, and the rules adopted pursuant to that act. The Model Practice Act for Physical Therapy (MPA) is the preeminent standard and most effective tool at the state level for revising and modernizing physical therapy practice acts via legislation. 

Personal scope of practice consists of activities for which an individual physical therapist is educated and trained and their competence to perform.

Recommended Content

APTA Guide to Physical Therapist Practice

Feb 9, 2023 / Website

Physical Therapist's Scope of Practice

Sep 13, 2017 / Policies & Bylaws

Additional Scope of Practice Content

2023 John H.P. Maley Lecture

Aug 11, 2023 / Article

Discover the pressing need for translating research findings into practical clinical applications within the field of physical therapy.

Seminal APTA Guide to PT Practice Gets an Update

Apr 12, 2023 / News

The physical therapy profession has evolved, and so has its foundational resource.

APTA Social: Paving the Way for Women in the Profession

Mar 20, 2023 / Article

Discussion about women; women empowerment, mentoring, networking, and APTA's awesome profession, founded by women!

54th Mary McMillan Lecture

Mar 10, 2023 / Article

Consider how to leverage specialized knowledge and skills to propel the evolution of physical therapy practice toward greater precision.

State Legislative Update, 2023: PT Compact, Improved Direct Access, and More

Mar 1, 2023 / Roundup

It's looking like a busy year for state legislatures, with the potential for some good news for the profession. Now's your chance to help.

2022 John H.P. Maley Lecture

Aug 15, 2022 / Article

Discover the fundamental role of exercise in modern physical therapy practice.

President Herr's 2022 House of Delegates Address

Aug 14, 2022 / Article

Watch the 2022 annual address on the importance of foresight in the physical therapy profession.

2022 Lynda D. Woodruff Lecture

Jun 16, 2022 / Article

Learn about the importance of representation, Sankofa, and trustworthiness in the physical therapy profession.

52nd Mary McMillan Lecture

Sep 23, 2021 / Article

We explore the importance of fostering an innovative culture within physical therapy and its significant impact on patient care.

President Dunn's 2021 House of Delegates Address

Sep 17, 2021 / Article

The 2021 annual address discusses the transformation of the APTA House of Delegates for the years to come by fostering the power of the APTA community.