In 1966, the Louisiana legislature passed the first Physical Therapy Practice Act. Physical therapists were first licensed and regulated by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME). In 1979, the LSBME formed the Physical Therapy Advisory Committee to assist board members in administering the licensing examination and to interview candidates for physical therapy licensure.
Act 208 of the Regular Session of the 1987 Legislature created the Louisiana Physical Therapy Board (LPTB) within the Department of Health and Hospitals (formerly, Health and Human Resources). The Board operates solely from self-generated funds, primarily from licensure application, renewal, and continuing education fees. The board does not accept any funding appropriated from the state. The initial five board members who were appointed by the Governor on September 1, 1987. The board composition at that time included the following:
- Three members of the profession who possess an unrestricted license to practice Physical Therapy and who have been practicing in the state for no less than three years.
- One physical therapist who possesses an unrestricted license to practice Physical Therapy and who has been practicing in the state for no less than three years and appointed from a list of names submitted by the Louisiana Hospital Association.
- One member shall be a physician who possesses an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the state who specializes in the practice of orthopedic surgery or the practice of physiatry and appointed from a list of names submitted by the Louisiana Medical Society.
The first five Board members appointed by the Governor were Patricia "Pat" Adams, PT; Rebecca
"Becky" Lege, PT; Gerald "Jerry" Leonard, PT; Ronald "Ron" Wehlander, PT; and Thomas "Tom" Laborde, MD.
The Physical Therapy Rules and Regulations were written by the board members and were adopted on December 20, 1987. Initially there were 700 physical therapists whose licenses were transferred from the LSBME to the LPTB. Of the initial 700 physical therapists licensed by the LPTB, 84 physical therapists had been licensed through a grandfather clause in 1966, meaning they had been educated and were already practicing prior to the passage of the first Practice Act and licensing requirement. These grandfathered PTs had previously passed the National Registry Exam.
In 1988 the LPTB became a member of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). In May 1988 the Federation began compilation of a databank of all licensed physical therapists in the United States and its territories. The database was to be used to record and track disciplinary actions taken against physical therapists by their state licensing boards.
Successful completion of the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) is required in all states including Louisiana. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy is the owner and developer of the examination (Prior to the establishment of the Federation, the exam was owned by APTA). The Federation contracts with various Professional Examination companies to assist in its exam development. Two companies that have been contracted are Professional Examination Service (PES) and Assessment Systems Incorporated (ASI).
The Physical Therapy Practice Act was amended in 1992 to permit the Board to license and regulate Physical Therapist Assistants. Notices were mailed to every clinic in the state indicating eligibility requirements to become a physical therapist assistant under the grandfather clause. Of the more than 300 applicants, 86 applicants met all requirements to be licensed under the grandfather clause. These applicants had to meet certain criteria to be eligible to sit for licensure exam. After the applicant passed the physical therapist assistant licensure examination, the applicant had to complete a clinical competency practical exam and attend a personal interview with a representative of the Board. Aside from those individuals eligible for initial grandfather licensure, all Physical Therapist Assistants must be a graduate of a CAPTE accredited physical therapist assistant program.
In July 1997, Louisiana and 32 other jurisdictions began participation in Computer Based Testing (CBT) versus the paper and pencil examination for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. Until that time, the paper and pencil examination was administered only three times a year on fixed dates in March, July, and November. With CBT, candidates could sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination six (6) days a week and at any of 220 participating Prometric Technology Centers in the United States and Canada. A candidate was allowed to sit for the CBT National Physical Therapy Examination up to 4 times in a 12 month period.
The Louisiana Physical Therapy Practice Act was revised effect January 1, 2010. The most significant changes are:
- Establishes by law the domicile of the Board in Lafayette, where it has always operated
- Increases Board membership from 5 to 7: 5 PTs, 1 PTA, 1 MD
- Adds a PTA to Board membership for the first time
- Provides for the LPTA to nominate to the governor candidates for two of the PT Board positions
- Allows the Board to limit the number of "retests" of NPTE by an applicant
- Authorizes the Board to recover investigative, legal and administrative expenses from licensees who are disciplined by the Board
- Authorizes the Board to adopt a patients' bill of rights
- Authorizes the Board to adopt the APTA's documents for ethics of licensees
- Authorizes the Board to issue Cease and Desist Orders for flagrant violations of Practice Act or Board rules
- Increases Board-member and Committee-member per diem from $50 to $150
- Allows reimbursement of reasonably necessary travel and meal expenses to Board members, Committee members and staff when on official business
- Authorizes substance abuse issues of licensees to be treated confidentially rather than publicly as are other disciplinary matters
- Eliminates temporary permits for applicants since exam results are now immediately available
- Grants authority for fingerprints and criminal background checks for new license applicants
- Provides procedures for practice in emergency situations such as post-Katrina/Rita
- Authorizes licenses to be issued on other than an annual basis - could go to two-year renewals and CE cycle by rule
- Adds DPT designations to title protection and title utilization language
- Adds "sexual misconduct" to list of licensee offenses
- Allows Board to act against legal entities, not just persons
- Improves organization, clarity and enforceability of the statute
- Makes clear that "any" four members of the seven-member board would constitute a quorum
ACT 535 restated the Louisiana Physical Therapy Practice Act which took effect January 1, 2010. As a result, the name of the board changed to the Louisiana Physical Therapy Board and increased the membership of the board to seven members.