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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Spinal Manipulation Ruling Made in New Hampshire

Published March 23, 2009 2:36 PM by Brian Ferrie

One of the most important issues currently facing physical therapy is practice infringement. With a limited pool of healthcare dollars available for reimbursement, the profession must ensure it is not closed off from specialties in which its practitioners can be effective. So it was noteworthy last month that the New Hampshire Attorney General (AG) issued an opinion confirming spinal manipulation to be within the scope of physical therapy practice.

As reported March 20 by the APTA's PT Bulletin Online (, "a 2006 article in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy prompted New Hampshire's chiropractic board to seek a determination that the PT practice act's reference to joint mobilization does not cover manipulation of the spine."

But APTA worked with New Hampshire's PT licensing board to demonstrate that spinal manipulation is, in fact, within the scope of practice. The AG's memo sided with physical therapists, stating, "Based on the information presented, there is insufficient evidence for this Office to second-guess the [PT] Board's assertion that joint mobilization encompasses spinal manipulation and is within the scope of practice."

What is your opinion of the argument presented by the New Hampshire chiropractic board? What measures do you think the physical therapy profession should take to protect against such actions in the future?

posted by Brian Ferrie


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