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The purpose of physical therapy is to improve the quality of lives of people, particularly those who are suffering from mobility impairment. Therefore it is of utmost importance that there are organizations that make it their business to advance both physical therapy education and physical therapy practice.
The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy aims to promote the protection of the public interest in the practice of physical therapy. This is done through regulations, laws and policies that govern the practice of physical therapy. Its mission also includes having systems and tools that will sufficiently assess competence of candidates before they are licensed. The federation administers the National Physical Therapy Examinations (NPTE) certification examination in 53 jurisdictions: the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The NPTE is administered by the federation to first time licensure applicants for both physical therapists (PT) and physical therapy assistants (PTA).
The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties coordinates and governs the certification and recertification process of physical therapy specialists. Its job is to determine the minimum requirements for certification and recertification, development of policies governing certification and recertification, and approval of certification and recertification of the qualified candidates. The board is comprised of 9 individuals as follows: 5 physical therapists from different specialties, 2 representatives from the American Physical Therapy Association, an individual experienced in testing, evaluation, and education, and a non-physical therapy practitioner who represents the interest of the community.
These are the 8 specializations being governed by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties:
The Cardiovascular and Pulmonary specialization is for PT practitioners who work with patients who have been diagnosed with or may potentially develop heart and lung diseases.
Clinical Electrophysiology is the PT specialization that deals with electrotherapy and other tools used in physical therapy and wound management.
Geriatrics is the PT specialization for PT practitioners who work with older people. Special interest groups include Balance and Falls, Osteoporosis and Health Promotion and Wellness.
Neurology is the specialization that deals with brain injury, spinal cord injury, and degenerative diseases.
Orthopaedics is the PT specialization for PT practitioners that deal with patients suffering from musculoskeletal problems. Special interest groups include Occupational Health and Pain Management.
Pediatrics deals with the physical therapy practice benefiting children and people with disabilities.
Sports deals with the PT practice of athletic injury management.
The Women's Health specialization deals with the physical therapy practice benefiting women in different stages if their lives.
To be eligible for certification, the candidate must have had 2,000 hours working in the specialty area, specifically in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, in the last ten years. At least 500 hours should have been completed in the last three years.
The American Physical Therapy Association is an association of professional physical therapists. It has 71,000 members as of this writing. The goal of this organization is to enhance the role of the physical therapist in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of movement dysfunctions. Their mission also includes the improvement of public health and physical function.
The World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) is the only physical therapy organization that is comprised of 350,000 physical therapists worldwide. It has 106 member organizations. Its goal is to advance the cause of global health by improving the practice of physical therapy. It aims to do this through the sharing of information and best practices among members and member organizations, and pushing for high standards in physical therapy education, research and practice.