Diagnosing pathology to decide the appropriateness of physical therapy: what’s our role?
Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
The Guide to Physical Therapist Practice affirms that physical therapists should determine the appropriateness of physical therapy to address a patient's disablement. The decision facing all therapists—during the initial evaluation and every subsequent clinic visit—is whether to treat the patient, refer the patient, or initiate both treatment and referral. This decision is based on whether the patient's clinical presentation is consistent with symptoms and signs of pathology that seem amenable to physical therapy. At minimum, deciding the appropriateness of physical therapy takes confirmation of the pathology suggested in a physician's referral diagnosis, if present. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that more extensive questioning, clinical testing, and referral to other specialists frequently are needed.
Davenport, Todd E.; Kulig, Kornelia; and Resnik, Cheryl, "Diagnosing pathology to decide the appropriateness of physical therapy: what’s our role?" (2006). School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Faculty Articles. 130.