Physical therapists engage in an examination process that includes taking the individual’s history, conducting a standardized systems review, and performing selected tests and measures to identify potential and existing movement-related disorders. The data gathered during history taking, including answers to review of systems questions, enables the physical therapist to generate diagnostic hypotheses and select specific tests and measures to identify and characterize signs, symptoms, and risk of movement dysfunctions. To establish the individual’s specific diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of care through the evaluation process, physical therapists synthesize the collected examination data and determine whether the potential or existing disorders to be managed are within the scope of physical therapist practice.
Based on their subsequent judgments about diagnoses and prognoses, and considering an individual’s goals, physical therapists manage an individual by making referrals, providing interventions, conducting reexaminations, and, as necessary, modifying interventions to achieve the individual’s goals and outcomes and to determine a conclusion to the plan of care. The detailed physical therapist examination and evaluation process is similar in structure across individuals, but will vary in specific content based on the individual’s needs.