Orthopaedic specialization within the physical therapy profession refers to the prevention of disability and the physical rehabilitation of persons with disability resulting from dysfunction of the musculoskeletal system and its related neurovascular components. The practice concentrates both on actual and potential dysfunction of physical capacity and movement. The orthopaedic clinical specialist uses advanced techniques and methods to assist the patient toward optimal function through corrective, adaptive, and prophylactic management of the neuromusculoskeletal system.
In 1981 the APTA House of Delegates approved board certification in the area of orthopaedics. The first orthopaedics specialist certification examination was administered in 1989. As of June 2020, ABPTS has certified 17,318 orthopaedics specialists.
The Role of the Orthopaedic Specialty Council
ABPTS Specialty Councils develop minimum eligibility requirements for certification and recertification in a specialty area based on ABPTS guidelines, and when required screen applicants for eligibility to sit for exams and for recertification. Specialty Council members are responsible for developing the examination instruments in consultation with the ABPTS testing agency and approved consultants.