Return to Play

It has come to the attention of the Louisiana Physical Therapy Board that there is confusion about whether or not it is within the scope of the practice for physical therapists to provide wellness and injury management on the sidelines of school-sponsored athletic activities. This confusion began in April 2014 when the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (“BESE”) promulgated Rule §§501 – 505 under Chapter 5, Injury Management Program Rules for Serious Sports Injuries. These BESE Rules did not include physical therapists from their definition of “appropriate mid-level providers” of health care permitted to triage and/or issue a return to play clearance for players injured in school-sponsored sporting activities.  These Rules conflict with the law that governs Comprehensive Sports Injury Management Program, which permits physical therapists to examine and diagnose a student’s injuries and require removal from sporting events and to provide written authorization for a student who is permitted to return to physical activity following an injury.

In an effort to clarify confusion about a physical therapist’s scope of practice, The Louisiana Physical Therapy Board has issued an official statement regarding this matter:

“Providing wellness and injury management on the sidelines of school-sponsored athletic activities is a vital service provided by a variety of health care professionals.  Under La. R.S. 40:1299.186, physical therapists are health care professionals specifically named and authorized to be present on the sidelines of school-sponsored athletic events, examine athletes, determine when an athlete must be removed from play, and provide the necessary return-to-play authorizations.  Physical therapists working in this capacity in accordance with the Physical Therapy Practice Act and the Louisiana Physical Therapy Board Rules provide essential sideline care and ensure the safety of all participants.”


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