APTA Publishes Dry Needling Resource Guide
In 2011, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) invited Dr. Jan Dommerholt to participate in the APTA Dry Needling Workgroup along with several other physical therapists representing legislators, educators, insurance specialists, clinicians, and the APTA administrative staff. In January 2012, the APTA released
Physical Therapists & the Performance of Dry Needling: An Educational Resource Paper (pdf).
In 2013, the APTA published a second educational resource guide about the scientific foundations of dry needling: Description of Dry Needling in Clinical Practice (pdf).
June 4, 2009—Following a request from an AAOMPT member, the AAOMPT Executive Committee charged the Practice Affairs Committee to investigate the basis of “dry needling” within physical therapist practice. Following an extensive review of the literature and discussions among the committee members the Practice Affairs Committee brought forth the following position for the Executive Committee to review:
POSITION: It is the Position of the AAOMPT Executive Committee that dry needling is within the scope of physical therapist practice.
SUPPORT STATEMENT: Dry needling is a neurophysiological evidence-based treatment technique that requires effective manual assessment of the neuromuscular system. Physical therapists are well trained to utilize dry needling in conjunction with manual physical therapy interventions. Research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, normalizes biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor endplates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation.
Update: During the October 2009 Annual Meeting, the AAOMPT Membership voted in favor of the position statement and agreed that intramuscular manual therapy/dry needling is indeed within the scope of physical therapy practice.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dry Needling
Have questions about dry needling? You might find the answers in this Bethesda Physiocare Dry Needling FAQ (pdf) publication.
Droge naald prikt spierknoopje weg
Dr. Carel Bron, graduate of the Dutch dry needling course program, was featured in a February 2012 newspaper article in the Netherlands … read article (pdf in Dutch) »
Commentary on Scope of Practice
From our perspective, medical boards should adhere to the guidelines of their own Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which in 2006 published a joint report together with the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP®) on changes in healthcare professions scope of practice.
According to these federations of state boards, since most professions today share some skills or procedures with another profession, it is no longer reasonable to expect each profession to have a completely unique scope of practice, exclusive of all others. Yet, it is quite common that “one profession may perceive another profession as “encroaching” into their area of practice. The profession may be economically or otherwise threatened and therefore oppose the other profession’s legislative effort to change scope of practice.” There are clear indications that some acupuncture societies and associations in the United States may feel threatened by increasing numbers of physical therapists, who are using dry needling techniques within their scope of physical therapy practice, even though few entry level physical therapy schools include dry needling in their curricula. As the joint report of the US regulatory boards indicated, it is common that new skills are initially performed as advanced skills by only a select number of professionals. Once a sufficient cohort of practitioners is utilizing the skills, they are likely to become entry-level skills and subsequently will be taught in entry-level curricula. The regulatory agencies concluded, that “it is not realistic to require a skill or activity to be taught in an entry-level program before it becomes part of a profession’s scope of practice. If this were the standard, there would be few, if any, increases in scope of practice.”
“No one profession actually owns a skill or activity in and of itself. One activity does not define a profession but it is the entire scope of activities within the practice that makes any particular profession unique. Simply because a skill or activity is within one profession’s skill set does not mean another profession cannot and should not include it in its own scope of practice.”
Although acupuncture boards did not participate in preparing this joint report on scope of practice, it is our recommendation that acupuncturists, acupuncture societies and associations, and acupuncture boards adopt the conclusions of their colleagues on other boards and realize that no one owns the exclusive right to a solid filament needle, irrespective of discipline. One discipline cannot and should not determine the scope of practice of any other discipline.