Scope of practice

Physical therapy scope of practice is dynamic, evolving with changes in the evidence base, policy and needs of service users. WCPT's description of physical therapy sets out the internationally agreed scope of practice. Each member organisation will interpret and further develop the scope within the context of the regulatory environment and evidence base for practice in their country. This further development may include policy and a programme for the recognition of specialist physical therapists.

Advanced scope of practice

Advanced scope of practice and direct access in physical therapy policy summit 2009

WCPT, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) held an international policy summit on Advanced Scope of Practice and Direct Access in Physical Therapy in Washington DC, USA in October 2009.

The objective of the summit was to share international experiences in developing and implementing policy in these areas. A combination of high profile presenters, posters and discussion sessions were used to address key questions.

Leaders from 18 countries attended the policy summit and endorsed the results of research that clearly demonstrates that patient self-referral to physical therapy is best for all health systems, whether public or private.

Prescribing rights for physiotherapists in the UK

In July 2012 UK physiotherapists were the first in the world to be granted the right to prescribe medicines for their patients without needing a doctor to sign off on their decision. Specially trained physiotherapists will be able to give their patients treatments for conditions like

  • chronic pain
  • asthma
  • neurological disorders
  • rheumatological conditions
  • women's health issues

​UK physiotherapists have been able to become supplementary prescribers since 2005. Changes will now need to be made to medicines legislation and approved courses will need to be set up. The first cohort of approved independent physiotherapy prescribers is expected to be recruited to these courses in autumn 2013.

Read the press release from the UK's Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) or watch their video and see what Phil Gray their Chief Executive has to say.


Whilst cervical manipulation is within the scope of practice of appropriately qualified physical therapists and may not be seen as advanced scope, a new iPhone/iPad app from the Australian Physiotherapy Association aims to facilitate informed consent. It includes an 80 second video that demonstrates the process of neck manipulation, what patients can expect and the potential risks. This video is available in seven languages. The app also includes a patient education fact sheet, informed consent labels, clinical guidelines and VBI assessment and cervical treatment flowcharts. These resources can be printed or emailed from the app. The app is available for AUD$2.99 from the iTunes App Store