Education Law

Article 136, Physical Therapy and Physical Therapist Assistants

§6730. Introduction. | §6731. Definition of physical therapy. | §6732. Practice of physical therapy and the use of title "physical therapist". | §6733. State board for physical therapy. | §6734. Requirements for a professional license. | §6735. Limited permits. | §6736. Exempt persons. | §6737. Non-liability of licensed physical therapists for first aid or emergency treatment. | §6738. Definition of physical therapist assistant. | §6739. Duties of physical therapist assistants and the use of title "physical therapist assistant". | §6740. Requirements for certification as a physical therapist assistant. | §6741. Exemption. | §6741-a. Limited permits. | §6742. Special provision. | § 6742-a. Mandatory continuing education. | §6743. Validity of existing licenses.

§ 6730. Introduction.

This article applies to the profession of physical therapy and provides for the licensing of physical therapists and for the certification of physical therapist assistants. The general provisions for all professions contained in article one hundred thirty of this title apply to this article.


§ 6731. Definition of physical therapy.

Physical therapy is defined as:

  1. The evaluation, treatment or prevention of disability, injury, disease, or other condition of health using physical, chemical, and mechanical means including, but not limited to heat, cold, light, air, water, sound, electricity, massage, mobilization, and therapeutic exercise with or without assistive devices, and the performance and interpretation of tests and measurements to assess pathophysiological, pathomechanical, and developmental deficits of human systems to determine treatment, and assist in diagnosis and prognosis.
  2. The use of roentgen rays or radium, or the use of electricity for surgical purposes such as cauterization shall not be included in the practice of physical therapy.
  3. Such treatment shall be rendered pursuant to a referral which may be directive as to treatment by a licensed physician, dentist, podiatrist, nurse practitioner or licensed midwife, each acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, and in accordance with their diagnosis, except as provided in subdivision d of this section.
  4. Such treatment may be rendered by a licensed physical therapist for ten visits or thirty days, whichever shall occur first, without a referral from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, nurse practitioner or licensed midwife provided that:
    1. The licensed physical therapist has practiced physical therapy on a full time basis equivalent to not less than three years.
    2. Each physical therapist licensed pursuant to this article shall provide written notice to each patient receiving treatment absent a referral from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, nurse practitioner or licensed midwife that physical therapy may not be covered by the patient's health care plan or insurer without such a referral and that such treatment may be a covered expense if rendered pursuant to a referral. The physical therapist shall keep on file with the patient's records a form attesting to the patient's notice of such advice. Such form shall be in duplicate, with one copy to be retained by the patient, signed and dated by both the physical therapist and the patient in such form as prescribed pursuant to regulations promulgated by the commissioner.

§ 6732. Practice of physical therapy and the use of title "physical therapist".

Only a person licensed or otherwise authorized under this article shall practice physical therapy or use the title "physical therapist", "physiotherapist" or "mechanotherapist" or the abbreviation of "P.T." in connection with his or her name or with any trade name in the conduct of his profession.


§ 6733. State board for physical therapy.

A state board for physical therapy shall be appointed by the board of regents on recommendation of the commissioner for the purpose of assisting the board of regents and the department on matters of professional licensing and professional conduct in accordance with section sixty-five hundred eight of this title. The board shall be composed of not less than eight licensed physical therapists and not less than one public representative. An executive secretary to the board shall be appointed by the board of regents on recommendation of the commissioner.


§ 6734. Requirements for a professional license.

To qualify for a license as a physical therapist, an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Application: file an application with the department;
  2. Education: have received an education, including completion of a master's degree or higher in physical therapy or determined to be equivalent, in accordance with the commissioner`s regulations;
  3. Experience: have experience satisfactory to the board in accordance with the commissioner`s regulations;
  4. Examination: pass an examination satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner`s regulations;
  5. Age: be at least twenty-one years of age;
  6. Character: be of good moral character as determined by the department; and
  7. Fees: pay a fee of one hundred seventy-five dollars to the department for admission to a department conducted examination and for an initial license; a fee of eighty-five dollars for each reexamination; a fee of one hundred fifteen dollars for an initial license for persons not requiring admission to a department conducted examination; and a fee of one hundred fifty-five dollars for each triennial registration period.

§ 6735. Limited permits.

  1. The department of education shall issue a limited permit to an applicant who meets all requirements for admission to the licensing examination.
  2. All practice under a limited permit shall be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist in a public hospital, an incorporated hospital or clinic, a licensed proprietary hospital, a licensed nursing home, a public health agency, a recognized public or non-public school setting, the office of a licensed physical therapist, or in the civil service of the state or political subdivision thereof.
  3. Limited permits shall be for six months and the department may for justifiable cause renew a limited permit provided that no applicant shall practice under any limited permit for more than a total of one year.
  4. Supervision of a permittee by a licensed physical therapist shall be on-site supervision and not necessarily direct personal supervision except that such supervision need not be on-site when the supervising physical therapist has determined, through evaluation, the setting of goals and the establishment of a treatment plan, that the program is one of maintenance as defined pursuant to title XVIII of the federal social security act.
  5. The fee for each limited permit and for each renewal shall be seventy dollars.

§ 6736. Exempt persons.

  1. This article shall not be construed to affect or prevent the administration of physical therapy or the use of modalities by a person employed by a licensed physician or physical therapist in his office, or in the civil service of the state or any political subdivision thereof, or in a hospital or clinic, or in an infirmary maintained by a person, firm or corporation employing one or more full-time licensed physicians or physical therapists, provided that such person was so employed for a period of at least two years prior to April tenth, nineteen hundred fifty, and has been issued a written authorization by the department.
  2. This article shall not be construed to affect or prevent:
    1. a physical therapy student from engaging in clinical practice under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist as part of a program conducted in an approved school of physical therapy or in a clinical facility or health care agency affiliated with the school of physical therapy and supervision of a physical therapy student by a licensed physical therapist shall be on-site supervision and not necessarily direct personal supervision;
    2. a physical therapist graduate of an approved program from engaging in clinical practice under the on-site, but not necessarily direct personal supervision of a licensed physical therapist provided the graduate has: (a) applied and paid a fee for the licensing and examination, (b) applied and paid a fee for the temporary permit. This exemption shall not extend beyond ninety days after graduation;
    3. a physical therapist licensed in another state or country from conducting a teaching clinical demonstration in connection with a program of basic clinical education, graduate education, or post-graduate education in an approved school of physical therapy or in its affiliated clinical facility or health care agency, or before a group of licensed physical therapists who are members of a professional society;
    4. a physical therapist who is serving in the armed forces or the public health service of the United States or is employed by the veterans administration from practicing the profession of physical therapy, provided such practice is limited to such service or employment.

§ 6737. Non-liability of licensed physical therapists for first aid or emergency treatment.

Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of any general, special or local law, any licensed physical therapist who voluntarily and without the expectation of monetary compensation renders first aid or emergency treatment at the scene of an accident or other emergency, outside a hospital, doctor`s office or any other place having proper and necessary physical therapy equipment, to a person who is unconscious, ill or injured, shall not be liable for damages for injuries alleged to have been sustained by such person or for damages for the death of such person alleged to have occurred by reason of an act or omission in the rendering of such first aid or emergency treatment unless it is established that such injuries were or such death was caused by gross negligence on the part of such physical therapist. Nothing in this section shall be deemed or construed to relieve a licensed physical therapist from liability for damages for injuries or death caused by an act or omission on the part of a physical therapist while rendering professional services in the normal and ordinary course of his practice.


§ 6738. Definition of physical therapist assistant.

  1. A "physical therapist assistant" means a person certified in accordance with this article who works under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist performing such patient related activities as are assigned by the supervising physical therapist. Duties of physical therapist assistants shall not include evaluation, testing, interpretation, planning or modification of patient programs. Supervision of a physical therapist assistant by a licensed physical therapist shall be on-site supervision, but not necessarily direct personal supervision. The number of physical therapist assistants supervised by one licensed physical therapist shall not exceed the ratio of four physical therapist assistants to one licensed physical therapist as shall be determined by the commissioner`s regulations insuring that there be adequate supervision in the best interest of public health and safety. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a hospital from employing physical therapist assistants, provided they work under the supervision of physical therapists designated by the hospital and not beyond the scope of practice of a physical therapist assistant. The numerical limitation of this section shall not apply to work performed in a hospital, provided that there be adequate supervision in the best interest of public health and safety.
  2. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision a of this section, supervision of a physical therapist assistant by a licensed physical therapist, (i) in a residential health care facility, as defined in article twenty-eight of the public health law, (ii) in a diagnostic and treatment center licensed under article twenty-eight of the public health law that provides, as its principal mission, services to individuals with developmental disabilities, (iii) in a facility, as defined in section 1.03 of the mental hygiene law, or (iv) under a monitored program of the office of mental retardation and developmental disabilities as defined in subdivision (a) of section 13.15 of the mental hygiene law, shall be continuous but not necessarily on site when the supervising physical therapist has determined, through evaluation, the setting of goals and the establishment of a treatment plan, that the program is one of maintenance as defined pursuant to title XVIII of the federal social security act. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to the provision of physical therapy services when the condition requires multiple adjustments of sequences and procedures due to rapidly changing physiological status and/or response to treatment, or to children under five years of age.
  3. * For the purposes of the provision of physical therapist assistant services in a home care services setting, as such services are defined in article thirty-six of the public health law, except that the home care services setting shall not include early intervention services as defined in title two-A of article twenty-five of the public health law, whether such services are provided by a home care services agency or under the supervision of a physical therapist licensed pursuant to this article, continuous supervision of a physical therapist assistant, who has had direct clinical experience for a period of not less than two years, by a licensed physical therapist shall not be construed as requiring the physical presence of such licensed physical therapist at the time and place where such services are performed. For purposes of this subdivision "continuous supervision" shall be deemed to include: (i) the licensed physical therapist`s setting of goals, establishing a plan of care and determining whether the patient is appropriate to receive the services of a physical therapist assistant subject to the licensed physical therapist`s evaluation; (ii) an initial joint visit with the patient by the supervising licensed physical therapist and the physical therapist assistant; (iii) periodic treatment and evaluation of the patient by the supervising licensed physical therapist, as indicated in the plan of care and as determined in accordance with patient need, but in no instance shall the interval between such treatment exceed every six patient visits or thirty days, whichever occurs first; and (iv) a final evaluation by the supervising licensed physical therapist to determine if the plan of care shall be terminated. For purposes of this subdivision, the number of physical therapist assistant's supervised in the home care services setting by a licensed physical therapist shall not exceed the ratio of two physical therapist assistants to one licensed physical therapist.

    * NB Repealed June 30, 2014

  4. *
    1. For purposes of the provision of physical therapist assistant services in public primary or private primary or secondary schools and for preschool children, as that term is defined in paragraph i of subdivision one of section forty-four hundred ten of this chapter, and receiving services thereunder, continuous supervision of a physical therapist assistant, who has direct clinical experience providing age appropriate physical therapy services for a period of not less than two years, by a licensed physical therapist shall not be construed as requiring the physical presence of such licensed physical therapist at the time and place where such services are performed. For purposes of this subdivision "continuous supervision" shall be deemed to include:
      1. the licensed physical therapist`s setting of the goals, establishing a plan of care, determining on an initial and ongoing basis whether the patient is appropriate to receive the services of a physical therapist assistant, determining the frequency of joint visits with the patient by both the supervising licensed physical therapist and the physical therapist assistant, except that in no instance shall the interval, between joint visits, be more than every ninety calendar days, subject to the licensed physical therapist`s evaluation;
      2. an initial joint visit with the patient by the supervising licensed physical therapist and physical therapist assistant;
      3. periodic treatment and evaluation of the patient by the supervising licensed physical therapist as indicated in the plan of care and as determined in accordance with patient need, except that in no instance shall the interval between such treatment exceed every twelfth visit or thirty days which ever occurs first; and
      4. notification of the supervising licensed physical therapist by the physical therapist assistant whenever there is a change in status, condition or performance of the patient.
    2. This subdivision shall not apply to the provision of physical therapy services when a child`s condition requires multiple adjustments of sequences and procedures due to rapidly changing physiologic status and/or response to treatment.

    * NB Repealed June 30, 2015


§ 6739. Duties of physical therapist assistants and the use of title "physical therapist assistant".

Only a person certified or otherwise authorized under this article shall participate in the practice of physical therapy as a physical therapist assistant and only a person certified under this section shall use the title "physical therapist assistant".


§ 6740. Requirements for certification as a physical therapist assistant.

  1. Application: file an application with the department;
  2. Education: have received an education including completion of a two-year college program in a physical therapist assistant program or equivalent in accordance with the commissioner`s regulations;
  3. Experience: have experience satisfactory to the state board for physical therapy in accordance with the commissioner`s regulations;
    1. Examination: pass an examination satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner`s regulations;
  4. Age: be at least eighteen years of age;
  5. Character: be of good moral character as determined by the department;
  6. Registration: all certified physical therapist assistants shall register triennially with the education department in accordance with the regulations of the commissioner;
  7. Fees: pay a fee for an initial certificate of forty-five dollars, and for the biennial registration period ending December thirty-first, nineteen hundred eighty-two a fee of twenty dollars and a fee of fifty dollars for each triennial registration period.

§ 6741. Exemption.

  1. This article shall not be construed to affect or prevent a physical therapist assistant student from engaging in clinical assisting under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist as part of a program conducted in an approved program for physical therapist assistants or in a clinical facility or health care agency affiliated with the program for physical therapist assistants.
  2. Supervision of a physical therapist assistant student by a licensed physical therapist shall be on-site supervision and not necessarily direct personal supervision.
  3. Nothing in this article is intended to affect the overall medical direction by a licensed physician of a physical therapist assistant.

§ 6741-a. Limited permits.

  1. The department shall issue a limited permit to an applicant who meets all requirements for admission to the certification examination.
  2. All practice under a limited permit shall be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist in a public hospital, an incorporated hospital or clinic, a licensed proprietary hospital, a licensed nursing home, a public health agency, a recognized public or non-public school setting, the office of a licensed physical therapist, or in the civil service of the state or political subdivision thereof.
  3. Limited permits shall be for six months and the department may for justifiable cause renew a limited permit provided that no applicant shall practice under any limited permit for more than a total of one year.
  4. Supervision of a permittee by a licensed physical therapist shall be on-site supervision and not necessarily direct personal supervision.
  5. e. The fee for each limited permit and for each renewal shall be fifty dollars.

§ 6742. Special provision.

  1. Any person who is employed as a physical therapist assistant in a facility satisfactory to the state board for a period of not less than two years prior to the effective date of this article and who does not qualify for certification under subdivision b of section sixty-seven hundred forty of this article may be certified as a physical therapist assistant upon successful completion of an examination approved by the state board of physical therapy in accordance with the commissioner`s regulations.
  2. Application for examination for certification pursuant to this section must be submitted not later than January first, nineteen hundred eighty-five. The department shall provide a total of three such examinations. The third examination shall be given not later than April first, nineteen hundred eighty-five. The fee for examination or reexamination shall be twenty-five dollars for each examination. Any person who qualifies for admission to an examination pursuant to this section may practice as a physical therapist assistant in the course of his or her employment in a facility satisfactory to the state board until thirty days after notification of failure to qualify pursuant to this section.
  3. Any person who was employed as a physical therapist assistant for at least two years prior to April first, nineteen hundred eighty-one, and who had attained permanent civil service status as a physical therapist assistant prior to that date, shall be issued written authorization from the department to continue working in that capacity without examination. This authorization shall remain in effect until the person leaves the position in which the civil service status had been granted.

§ 6742-a. Mandatory continuing education. *

    1. Each licensed physical therapist and certified physical therapist assistant required under this article to register triennially with the department to practice in the state shall comply with the provisions of the mandatory continuing education requirements prescribed in subdivision two of this section except as set forth in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subdivision. Licensed physical therapist and certified physical therapist assistants who do not satisfy the mandatory continuing education requirements shall not practice until they have met such requirements, and they have been issued a registration certificate, except that a licensed physical therapist or certified physical therapist assistant may practice without having met such requirements if he or she is issued a conditional registration certificate pursuant to subdivision three of this section.
    2. Each licensed physical therapist and certified physical therapist assistant shall be exempt from the mandatory continuing education requirement for the triennial registration period during which they are first licensed. In accordance with the intent of this section, adjustment to the mandatory continuing education requirement may be granted by the department for reasons of health certified by an appropriate health care professional, for extended active duty with the armed forces of the United States, or for other good cause acceptable to the department which may prevent compliance.
    3. A licensed physical therapist and certified physical therapist assistant not engaged in practice, as determined by the department,shall be exempt from the mandatory continuing education requirement upon the filing of a statement with the department declaring such status. Any licensee who returns to the practice of physical therapy during the triennial registration period shall notify the department prior to reentering the profession and shall meet such mandatory education requirements as shall be prescribed by regulations of the commissioner.
  1. During each triennial registration period an applicant for registration as a licensed physical therapist or certified physical therapist assistant shall complete a minimum of thirty-six hours of acceptable formal continuing education, as specified in subdivision four of this section. Any licensed physical therapist or certified physical therapist assistant whose first registration date following the effective date of this section occurs less than three years from such effective date, but on or after January first, two thousand ten, shall complete continuing education hours on a prorated basis at the rate of one-half hour per month for the period beginning January first, two thousand ten up to the first registration date thereafter. A licensee who has not satisfied the mandatory continuing education requirements shall not be issued a triennial registration certificate by the department and shall not practice unless and until a conditional registration certificate is issued as provided for in subdivision three of this section. Continuing education hours taken during one triennium may not be transferred to a subsequent triennium.
  2. The department, in its discretion, may issue a conditional registration to a licensee who fails to meet the continuing education requirements established in subdivision two of this section but who agrees to make up any deficiencies and complete any additional education which the department may require the fee for such a conditional registration shall be the same as, and in addition to, the fee for the triennial registration. The duration of such conditional registration shall be determined by the department but shall not exceed one year. Any licensee who is notified of the denial of registration for failure to submit evidence, satisfactory to the department, of required continuing education and who practices without such registration may be subject to disciplinary proceedings pursuant to section sixty-five hundred ten of this title.
  3. As used in subdivision two of this section, "acceptable formal education" shall mean formal courses of learning which contribute to professional practice in physical therapy and which meet the standards prescribed by regulations of the commissioner. Such formal courses of learning shall include, but not be limited to, collegiate level credit and non-credit courses, professional development programs and technical sessions offered by national, state and local professional associations and other organizations acceptable to the department, and any other organized educational and technical programs acceptable to the department. The department may, in its discretion and as needed to contribute to the health and welfare of the public, require the completion of continuing education courses in specific subjects to fulfill this mandatory continuing education requirement. Courses must be taken from a sponsor approved by the department, pursuant to the regulations of the commissioner.
  4. Licensed physical therapist or certified physical therapist assistant shall maintain adequate documentation of completion of acceptable formal continuing education and shall provide such documentation at the request of the department. Failure to provide such documentation upon the request of the department shall be an act of misconduct subject to disciplinary proceedings pursuant to section sixty-five hundred ten of this title.
  5. The mandatory continuing education fee shall be forty-five dollars, shall be payable on or before the first day of each triennial registration period, and shall be paid in addition to the triennial registration fee required by section sixty-seven hundred thirty-four of this article.

* Effective September 1, 2009


§ 6743. Validity of existing licenses.

  1. This article shall not be construed to affect the validity of existing licenses and permits or the continuation of any administrative actions or proceedings commenced prior to the effective date of this article.
  2. Amendments made to the educational requirement of section sixty-seven hundred thirty-four of this article pursuant to a chapter of the laws of two thousand eleven which amended this section shall not be construed to affect the validity of existing licenses and permits.
Last Updated: August 16, 2012