Okay, I’ve heard the critics — too much blaming the profession and focusing on mistakes, not enough positive things we can do now. So, here goes —
A very practical next step, or maybe the most important thing to do to prepare for a next step, is getting your bearings. Any confusion about where you are now and your next steps might be in the wrong direction. So let’s take a look at where we are with our old friend Dry Needling —
On January 23, 2014, the Court of Appeals of the State of Oregon issued a ruling regarding the practice of dry needling by Chiropractors. Surfing the web I’ve read “the issue came down to whether chiropractors could perform dry needling after having 24 hours of training,” and “The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled “dry needling” is acupuncture and not within the scope of practice of chiropractic medicine” and “This ruling sets a precedent which can have far-reaching effects beyond Oregon. It becomes part of the record for each state acupuncture Association to use in it’s own fight for appropriate licensure, training, and practice.”
It is certainly correct that the ruling does set a precedent, so let’s be sure we understand what that precedent is. I encourage all of you to read the ruling, linked above. It isn’t long and it is interesting. You can see a nice summary here. Most critically —
- The ruling does not say that dry needling is acupuncture. I don’t believe it includes any mention of the word acupuncture.
- The ruling does not consider how much training is necessary to practice this technique safely. Hours of training are irrelevant to this ruling.
- Patient safety is not explored or addressed in this ruling.
The Court focuses on the Chiropractic Board’s argument that Dry Needing is Physiotherapy and rules that it is not, based on the understanding of the word in 1927, when Physiotherapy was added to Chiropractic scope in Oregon. (The Court clearly states that it does not find that Physiotherapy is the same as Physical Therapy.)
So, if you are in a state in which the PT Board or Chiropractic Board has argued that Dry Needling is Physiotherapy, and if Physiotherapy was added to that Board’s scope in the late 1920’s, this ruling sets a very important precedent. I’m guessing the ruling may not quite live up to its reputation as a game-changer.
In other news, while NCASI is celebrating the Utah DOPL’s decision that dry needling is outside the scope of practice for Physical Therapists, there is a bill (HB 367) moving through the Utah House that would add Dry Needling to the Physical Therapy scope. (There are fewer than 100 LAcs in Utah, and several thousand PT’s). Similarly, Arizona S.B. 1154, legislatively adding dry needling to Physical Therapy scope has passed the Senate.
So, that’s where we are. And if you don’t buy my argument that knowing where we are counts as a practical next step, here, on its one year anniversary, but so relevant it could have been written today, are not ten, but ELEVEN, positive, practical, and fulfilling next steps.