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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Issues of Infringement

Published October 26, 2007 9:56 AM by Lisa Lombardo
A recent guest editorial was sent to ADVANCE discussing the subtle encroachment of personal trainers into the domain of the physical therapy profession (ADVANCE, Oct. 22, 2007). The writer expressed concern that personal trainers were staking claim to strength training and exercise rehab expertise that should remain the proper scope of practice for PTs and PTAs.

The notion is not a paranoid one; despite the best intentions of therapists to educate and even of many personal trainers to represent themselves accurately, patients and clients who seek expertise on strength training and exercise for therapy can become genuinely confused when considering who to ask as an expert in this area.

The American Physical Therapy Association takes a proactive stand on lobbying for decisions in state PT practice acts-and the practice acts of many other professions-to fight infringement cases that endanger PTs.

There are many documented cases of possible encroachment on the PT profession, most notably in legal decisions on the advertising methods and practice acts of chiropractors, exercise physiologists and athletic trainers. These professions are, arguably, somewhat similar in educational requirements and training, albeit not nearly as comprehensive as that of physical therapists. But the same cannot be said for personal trainers. Most of those programs require a much smaller amount of education to earn certification to begin legitimate practice in that field.

Have you had an experience with fighting encroachment between personal trainers who bill themselves as "PTs"? Do you feel this issue presents a looming problem for the profession?


Amazing, PT's have not problem adding ADL's, a OT domain, to their practice acts, yet feel infringed upon by Athletic trainers.

Colleen S, outpt - OTR/L December 13, 2007 3:30 PM
Reading PA

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