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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.

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

Jun 1, 2021 / Website

Physical Therapist's Scope of Practice

Sep 13, 2017 / Policies & Bylaws


Additional Scope of Practice Content

Your Comments Needed on Revisions to Guide to Physical Therapist Practice

Jan 12, 2022 / News

Recommended changes touch on direct access, movement system, career advancement, and more. Get your comments in by Feb. 28.

The APTA Future of Physical Therapy Summit Is Almost Here — And You're Invited

Aug 4, 2021 / News

Register now to join us virtually or in person for this one-of-a-kind event with an international perspective.

Telehealth and What Students Should Know -#XchangeSA

Feb 21, 2020 /

APTA’s live #XchangeSA chat with Alan Lee, PT, DPT, PhD on telehealth and telerehab.

Growing Pains – Defining Moment

Jan 13, 2020 /

Sharna Prasad, PT, DPT, discusses how self-reflection makes a path clear.

Passion X Purpose

Jan 8, 2020 /

For the physical therapy profession to thrive, it needs clinicians with grit. Physical therapist Fred Gilbert urges the next generation to think outside of the box and outside of the clinic.

Important but Underused: PTs, PTAs, and Disaster Response

Oct 1, 2019 / Feature

PTs and PTAs have much to offer patients and health care teams before, during, and after disasters. Part of the challenge, however, is educating other providers about those benefits.

Communication and Patient Education – NEXT 2019

Aug 23, 2019 /

Physical therapist Jaclyn Marie Arrow, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy, discusses her session, He Said, She Said: How Personality and Communication Can Improve Patient Education.

Communication and Patient Education

Jul 19, 2019 /

Jaclyn Marie Arrow, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy, discusses her session “He Said, She Said: How Personality and Communication Can Improve Patient Education” at APTA’s NEXT 2019 in Chicago.

Beyond the Law

Jul 1, 2019 / Column

What's legal isn't necessarily ethical.

Physical Therapy to the Rescue – Defining Moment

Feb 25, 2019 /

Paul Caudillo, PT, DPT, is a veteran who finds that his rallying motto still resonates.