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Guide to Physical Therapist Practice

Guide 3.0 - Available Now!

The latest version of APTA's Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, which has been available as a book and CD and is now an online subscription, is available now online only, as Guide to Physical Therapist Practice 3.0 (Guide 3.0). The online links to external and continually updated resources enable the Guide to meet the needs of today's physical therapist and physical therapist assistant educators, students, and clinicians in a way that a static printed book cannot.

Access Guide 3.0 at http://guidetoptpractice.apta.org — no software to buy, no disk to install, no updates to download. Guide 3.0 is free to APTA members. Nonmembers can access the Guide by annual subscription.

  • To join APTA or renew your membership and get free access to the Guide for as long as you stay a member, go here.
  • To begin a 1-year renewable subscription, go here.

Note that if you are a new APTA member or subscriber to the Guide you may need to wait up to 48 hours after your transaction before you are able to log in.

Print Edition

The printed edition of the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice 2nd Edition has been discontinued.

What is Guide 3.0, and who is it for?

Guide 3.0 is a description of practice. Originally, APTA developed the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice as a resource also for health care policy makers, administrators, managed care providers, third-party payers, and other professionals. Because these external stakeholders now have access to other key resources, and because the rapid evolution of health care policy requires more dynamic documents, Guide 3.0 was developed primarily for physical therapist and physical therapist assistant audiences.

Important to note:

The elements of the Patient/Client Management Model (examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and outcomes) are unchanged. A more robust description of the process used when applying those components in practice is provided in Guide 3.0.

Within the physical therapist examination, review of systems (ROS) has been added to the history. The history, systems review, and tests and measures continue to be the 3 components of an examination.

The language in Guide 3.0 has been revised to be consistent with International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) language.

Other language changes were made to more accurately reflect current terminology in the field; for example, "sensory processing" has replaced "sensory integration."

Certain sections, such as Integumentary Repair and Protection, have been changed to more accurately reflect current practice.

There also are changes in the groupings of categories of tests and measures, and categories of interventions. For example, the test and measure category Gait, Locomotion and Balance from the Guide second edition is reorganized to more accurately reflect ICF language: Gait and Balance are now separate categories, and Locomotion is now Mobility (Including Locomotion). Some categories have been combined. For example, the old intervention categories Electrotherapeutic Modalities and Physical Agents and Mechanical Modalities are combined into Biophysical Agents.

With the advent of clinical practice guidelines being developed by APTA sections and outside entities to guide decision making, the Preferred Physical Therapist Practice Patterns from previous editions have been deleted from Guide 3.0 and will be available on the APTA website for educational purposes only. The content has not been formally reviewed since their creation, and the groupings have not been validated. Educators both in academia and in the clinic may wish to use the Practice Patterns as a teaching tool-for example, to support "paper patients" or hypothetical cases-but the patterns are not intended to be used to guide clinical practice for in the management of actual patients or clients. The ICD-9 coding and the range of visits also have been deleted.

The Catalog of Tests and Measures, specific tests and measures available only on the CD version of the Guide 2nd edition, has been retired, as the information is outdated. Instead, APTA activities have focused on determining selected tests and measures through initiatives such as the Evaluation Database to Guide Effectiveness (EDGE) task forces and PTNow.

The Guide website URL is and will continue to be http://guidetoptpractice.apta.org. If you are an APTA member or a paid subscriber, access Guide 3.0 using the same URL and login that you used to access the online Guide second edition.