District of Columbia

The Physical Therapy Practice Act of the District of Columbia defines Physical Therapy as:

A physical therapist or any person so authorized under the Act to perform physical therapy may perform the following functions: (a) Examining individuals with impairments, functional limitations and disabilities or other health-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis and course of intervention while utilizing tests and measurements consistent with the practice of physical therapy;

At the same time the Practice Act includes the following: “Practice of physical therapy” means the independent evaluation of human disability, injury, or disease by means of noninvasive tests of neuromuscular functions and other standard procedures of physical therapy, and the treatment of human disability, injury, or disease by therapeutic procedures, embracing the specific scientific application of physical measures to secure the functional rehabilitation of the human body. These measures include the use of therapeutic exercise, therapeutic massage, heat or cold, air, light, water, electricity, or sound for the purpose of correcting or alleviating any physical or mental disability, or preventing the development of any physical or mental disability, or the performance of noninvasive tests of neuromuscular functions as an aid to the detection or treatment of any human condition.

So a case could be made that a PT would not be able to perform needle EMG independently. At the same time this could be argued as PTs in the District of Columbia can perform Dry Needling which is an invasive procedure.   However, Nerve Conduction Studies are not invasive studies as they only involve surface electrodes. Other Electrodiagnostic studies such as Evoked Potential Studies (SSEP, VEP, BAERs) as well as Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging are not invasive studies as there is no penetration of the integrity of the skin.

EMG/NCS Testing uses electricity and Musculoskeletal Ultrasound uses sound waves for the evaluation (testing and measurement) of the neuro-musculoskeletal system.

APTA fully supports PTs practicing EMG/NCS Testing as it is within the scope of Physical Therapy Practice. The Orthopedic Section of the APTA in a white paper not only advocates the use of Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging within the scope of practice for Physical Therapy but also endorses its application both for diagnostic as well as procedural purposes to aid neuromuscular re-education, dry needling and electroneuromyography.

Find here information about Direct Access to Physical Therapy in your state.