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August 2010

To: New York State Licensed Physical Therapists
New York State Licensed Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical Therapy Educators
Physical Therapy Organizations
Physical Therapy Students and Licensure Applicants
Other Interested Parties

From: Frank Muñoz, Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Professions
Claudia Alexander, Executive Secretary, State Board for Physical Therapy

Subject: Guidelines for Physical Therapy Practice in New York State

The State Education Department and the State Board for Physical Therapy have produced the attached practice guidelines to provide useful information on good and recommended practices in the profession of Physical Therapy. While this information is not a substitute for an understanding of the law, rules and regulations governing the practice of physical therapy in New York State, it is a useful supplement that reflects common professional practice issues and concerns. These practice guidelines can help licensed physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to better understand what might lead to professional practice complaints and to take steps to eliminate or minimize those situations.

These practice guidelines reflect the collective experience of the members of the State Board for Physical Therapy along with input from a variety of sources, including physical therapy organizations and practitioners, physical therapy educators, Office of the Professions’ staff, and other State Boards for the Professions.

Practice guidelines provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice and prevent instances of professional misconduct.1 They can also benefit licensees and consumers by broadening their understanding of the law, rules and regulations that define professional practice, including professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct.

Practice guidelines do not have the force of law. While the guidelines may be a resource in understanding good professional conduct in relation to the professional discipline process, they may not be used as the basis for a charge of or a defense against a charge of professional misconduct. A licensee can only be charged with professional misconduct if there is a violation of the Education Law or Regents Rules. Determinations of which complaints lead to professional misconduct charges are made on a case-by-case basis in accordance with Section 6510 of the Education Law.

For a full understanding of the application of practice guidelines, please review the memorandum regarding the purpose and use of practice guidelines contained at the end of this packet.

Relevant sections of Education Law and Part 29 of the Rules of the Board of Regents on Unprofessional Conduct are available on this site. You may access all New York State Law, such as Public Health Law, Civil Practice Law and Rule, and Insurance Law at

We hope you find these Practice Guidelines useful. If in doubt about the appropriateness of specific practices, you should consult the actual laws, rules or regulations. You may direct any questions and comments to Claudia Alexander, Executive Secretary for the State Board for Physical Therapy, at (518) 474-3817 ext. 180, by e-mail at, or by fax to (518) 402-5944.


1 Practice guidelines are not intended to establish a standard for the evaluation of issues in civil liability lawsuits involving claims of negligence or malpractice. The intent is to provide a frame of reference to be used with other appropriate considerations for assessment of issues relating to professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct as defined by law, rules or regulations.