California Bill to Restrict Manipulation

California SB 381 will be heard in the Senate B&P Committee on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 1pm in Room 3191!  SB 381 would prohibit PTs from performing a joint manipulation.

SB 381 (Joint Manipulation) would prohibit a health care practitioner from performing joint manipulation, unless he or she is a licensed chiropractor, physician and surgeon, or osteopathic physician and surgeon. The bill would provide that a health care practitioner who performs joint manipulation or joint adjustment is in violation of these provisions and is engaged in the unlawful practice of chiropractic, which shall constitute, among other things, good cause for the revocation or suspension of the health care practitioner’s license.

“The physical therapy profession needs all physical therapist in the nation to rally –  from everywhere – and support our California colleagues. California physical therapists are facing a challenge to what we do every day –  the use of our hands to treat our patients. The Chiropractic Association in California wants to make physical therapists use of manipulation/mobilization for our patients unlawful – even though it is currently lawful. Every physical therapist in California needs to be in Sacramento on April 15th for the Senate hearing on SB 381. Though most present will not have an opportunity to testify, numbers on hand do matter, and all present will at least have an opportunity to (very) briefly step to the mic and state their opposition to the bill”. For those of you out of State, please see the CPTA website ( for fax and phone numbers where opposition letters must be sent. Together we can defeat this unsubstantiated and arbitrary attack on our scope of practice”.

Dr. James M. Syms PT, DSc, ATC, SCS

Physical Therapist, Doctor of Science, Certified Athletic Trainer, Board Certified Specialist – Sports Physical Therapy

President, California Physical Therapy Association


As a physical therapist from California, and as an educator and researcher with much of my work focused on the areas of mobilization/manipulation,  I am sure you would guess that I am fired up about this bill.  While it is clear that all physical therapists need to rally and come together on the 15th in Sacramento to testify, I believe this current fight in CA has potentially a more global impact.  This is not just a California legislative issue, but could potentially be a testing ground and precursor for similar legislation by the Chiropractic Associations across the country.  The sooner we can stop this nonsense, the better.  Please help by faxing letters of opposition to SB 381, and placing phone calls to

  • Senator Leland Y. Yee – Phone: 916-651-4008 Fax: 916-327-2186 
  • Senator Curren Price (Chair) – Phone: 916-651-4026 Fax: 916-445-8899 
  • Senator Bill Emmerson (Vice-Chair)- Phone: 916-651-4023 Fax: 916-327-2272
  • Senator Marty Block – Phone: 916-651-4039 Fax: 916-327-2188
  • Senator Ellen Corbett – Phone: 916-651-4010 Fax: 916-327-2433
  • Senator Cathleen Galgiani – Phone: 916-651-4005 Fax: 916-323-2277
  • Senator Ed Hernandez – Phone: 916-651-4024 Fax: 916-445-0485
  • Senator Jerry Hill – Phone: 916-651-4013 Fax: 916-324-0283
  • Senator Alex Padilla – Phone: 916-651-4020 Fax: 916-324-6645
  • Senator Mark Wyland – Phone: 916-651-4038 Fax: 916-446-7382

Remember that grassroots efforts are essential in these legislative issues.  WE NEED YOU to pick up your phone and make the phone calls, and to write and send faxes to the individuals above.   DO NOT WAIT for others, just get out your phone and call!

Thanks so much for contributing to protecting our professional practice act!


Julie M. Whitman, PT, DSc

Board Certified in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy

Fellowship Trained in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy

Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship Director, PostProfessional DPT Director

Evidence In Motion

4 responses to “California Bill to Restrict Manipulation

  1. Kevin Stemple says:

    Aren’t we – as Licensed California P.T.s – aren’t we restricted already by our Professional Standards Board?

    The only thing this changes is that now we can lose our license for it.

    I think we first need to change our scope of practice with thie PTBC.

  2. Jordan says:

    As a student who has many classmates who may be going to CA for internships and jobs, this has potential to affect us. Our class would surely send a letter of support for PTs being allowed to do this. Being in another state right now, though, will our letters to the senators be allowed?Thanks for your reply.

  3. Jaro Pospiech says:

    Unfair?.. Sure. Detrimental to the proffesional standards?..Not so sure. There is a significant problem wtih spnal manipulations effectiveness for anything which is ranging from nil to not worth the risks. It is absurd in its premis, so I expect strong therapeutic effect form systematic reviews and not just barely statistically significant. I know that this is not the scope of this particula discussion but I am trying to look at the bright side.

  4. Rob Landel says:


    See my response to an article in a chiropractic newsletter here regarding the legality of PT’s performing manipulation in CA. I specifically refer to the Attorney General’s Opinion from 1976:

    I’m no lawyer and I won’t represent you in court, but I feel that I can make a strong argument that the AG Opinion doesn’t relate to a PT performing a spinal manipulation. I am not “reducing a subluxation,” nor am adjusting “for the purpose of curing disease.” The AG felt that these constitute a chiropractic adjustment and PT’s are not allowed to do that. Personally speaking, I’m fine with that.

    Rob Landel, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, FAPTA
    Professor of Clinical PT
    University of Southern California

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