Technical Standards

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Emory University is sensitive to the needs of individuals with disabilities and does not discriminate against qualified candidates with disabilities. The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, including changes made by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008.

We require that student physical therapists be able to meet the technical standards of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, with or without reasonable accommodations. These technical standards are related to essential career and licensing requirements, and set forth the technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

An offer of admission may be withdrawn and or a student may be dismissed from the program if he or she cannot articulate how, even with reasonable accommodation, he or she would be able to meet the program qualifications—including these technical standards, or if it becomes apparent that the student cannot meet the technical standards even with reasonable accommodation; the requested accommodation(s) would fundamentally alter the nature of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Emory University or create a significant risk of harm to the health or safety of others.

Technical standards apply to classroom, laboratories, and clinical settings. Emory Doctor of Physical Therapy Program uses independent clinical education sites that may or may not be able to offer the same reasonable accommodations that are made available by Emory University.

Individuals who have questions regarding reasonable accommodations should contact the Emory University Office of Disability Services at 404-544-9877.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Emory University in accordance with requirements of the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education and Standards of Practice of the American Physical Therapy Association identifies the following skills fundamental to the physical therapy profession and our curriculum;

  • Problem solving on the basis of verbal, visual, and written information within a limited time frame;
  • Clinical reasoning and decision making within a limited time frame;
  • Visual-spatial integration;
  • Perceptual-motor integration;
  • Repetitive motion;
  • Insight and judgment for safety and prognostication;
  • Effective communication among group members;
  • Planning and organizing for treatment prescription;
  • Intermittent lifting of heavy loads;
  • Repetitive motion;
  • Frequent standing, walking and bending’
  • Occasional kneeling and twisting;
  • Frequent lifting, pushing and pulling up to 20 lbs.;
  • Occasional lifting, pushing and pulling 20 – 50 lbs.;
  • Time management to coordinate course requirements

These skills require that applicants have the abilities to meet the technical standards established for this program, with or without reasonable accommodation. These technical standards are:

  1. Participate in all phases of the educational program within the required time frame, including demonstrating comprehension of all classroom, clinical, and any other required learning experiences through performance and/or examination where such a requirement is essential to:
    1. be provided with all the specific skills and experiences necessary to successfully complete the Physical Therapy Program, and become eligible for licensure;
    2. apply basic principles of the scientific method in reading and interpreting professional literature, performing research, and critically analyzing new concepts and findings provided by others.
  2. Apply basic educational concepts of theories in designing, implementing, and evaluating treatment and function appropriately in interpersonal relationships by exhibiting use of good judgment, empathy, reliability, and emotional stability; must possess the abilities to practice appropriately in stressful situations and to work acceptably with others in order to:
    1. interact with patients and families in a manner which provides the desired psychosocial support by
      1. recognizing his/her own reaction to illness and disability;
      2. recognizing patients’ and families’ reactions to illness and disability;
      3. respecting individual, cultural, religious, and socioeconomic differences in people.
      4. tilizing appropriate communicative processes to ensure appropriate standards of care, as wells a accepting and providing constructive criticism.
    2. demonstrate safe, ethical, and legal practice as stated by the profession;
    3. engage the greatest possible degree of patient motivation and cooperation in evaluation and treatment;
    4. function effectively with other health care practitioners in providing appropriate patient care and in improving the quality of patient care;
    5. be responsive to ideas and techniques that might be more appropriate, effective, or safe.
  3. Communicate effectively with patients, their families, and health care practitioners in order to:
    1. instruct, confer, and integrate appropriate patient treatment with other aspects of patient care;
    2. stimulate motivation and cooperation in treatment, and assist in the alleviation of anxiety;
    3. teach patients and their families procedures necessary for continued care;
    4. participate in the planning, organization, and control of a physical therapy service.
  4. Function appropriately in professional practice in order to:
    1. review and evaluate patient needs; specify which definitive physical therapy procedures are indicated by administering and analyzing the results of tests, measurements, and evaluations including: gait analysis, vital signs, strength, coordination, joint range and capsule integrity.
    2. plan and prepare treatment programs which:
      1. include realistic goals in terms of diagnosis, prognosis, physical, psychosocial status, and anticipated lifestyle of the patient;
      2. include effective treatment methods that provide a high probability of achieving treatment goals;
      3. are within resource constraints;
      4. provide for periodic revision according to changes in the patient’s physiological state;
      5. contain specificity and comprehensiveness appropriate to the level of personnel who will execute the plan;
      6. are adequately documented.
    3. properly administer and/or modify physical therapy treatments in order to ensure that patients safely perform functional activities.


  • American Physical Therapy Association. Minimum Required Skills of Physical Therapist Graduates at Entry Level. BOD G11-05-20-449.
  • American Physical Therapy Association. Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. Alexandria, Virginia, 2008.
  • AASIG Technical Standards, Essential Functions Document. Section on Education, September 1998.
  • Ingram, D. (1997). Opinions of Physical Therapy Program Directors on Essential Functions, Physical Therapy, 77(1).