Ruling Update on: AAC and the CSAA file lawsuit against Colorado Physical Therapy Board

The following article is a follow up to the previous post listed below.

Physical therapists can continue to stick it to their patients, judge rules in acupuncture challenge

By DAVID MIGOYA | | The Denver Post
December 29, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Practice of “dry needling” not limited to only acupuncturists, judge rules

The more than 6,000 licensed physical therapists in Colorado can continue to offer “dry needling” as a form of treatment after a Denver judge knocked down a lawsuit by the state’s licensed acupuncturists challenging the practice.

In a tightly written, eight-page decision, Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones dismissed the lawsuit by the Acupuncture Association of Colorado largely because the group’s challenge of a 2012 rule allowing physical therapists to engage in dry needling comes years too late.

But Jones said even if the association’s challenge to Rule 211 was to be entertained, it would fail because state laws regulating what physical therapists are allowed to do in their practice are loose enough to include dry needling.

“There is sufficient elasticity in the (Physical Therapists Practice Act’s) definition of physical therapy to encompass dry needing,” Bruce wrote in an opinion issued Dec. 12.

Pulling from a 2013 opinion by the state Office of Legislative Legal Services, Bruce added: “…the definition…of ‘physical measures, activities and devices’ encompasses mechanical stimulation ‘which can include the kind of stimulation of muscles that the technique of dry needling employs. The use of needles to palpate trigger points can be reasonably seen as the use of a ‘device’ to accomplish ‘mechanical stimulation.””

At issue was a Colorado Physical Therapy Board provision allowing physical therapists to use the same types of needles — known as filiform needles — as acupuncturists use to stimulate what they call “ashi” points. The board issued Rule 211 shortly after it was empaneled following a 25-year absence. It’s unclear how many of the state’s licensed physical therapists use dry needling.

The AAC argued that the public could be harmed because physical therapists are allowed to use dry needling with only 46 hours of training while acupuncturists in Colorado must attend …

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By DAVID MIGOYA | | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: April 5, 2017 at 5:28 pm | UPDATED: April 7, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Acupuncturists sue Colorado’s physical therapy board over the very definition of their craft

Board policy allowing less-trained therapists to practice “dry needling” is unsafe, says Acupuncture Association of Colorado in suit

A needling controversy between Colorado’s acupuncturists and physical therapists over the former’s exclusive claim to the Chinese technique could ultimately be decided by a judge.

The Acupuncture Association of Colorado has sued the state’s Physical Therapy Board for refusing to rescind a rule that allows the lesser-trained therapists to practice “dry needling,” a technique acupuncturists say is merely a euphemism for what they have done for centuries.

They claim the procedure is dangerous in the hands of an untrained practitioner and point to a number of Coloradans – including Olympic skier Torin Yater-Wallace – injured as a result, mostly from collapsed lungs.

“They needed to call it something, and you can’t say it’s acupuncture without having to undertake all the requirements of training,” said Stuart Wilcox, the Denver attorney representing AAC. “A lot of the controversy by the acupuncturists isn’t that they’re losing business; it’s that they’re fundamentally concerned that insufficiently trained practitioners are hurting patients.”

The American Medical Association last year noted that “dry needling is indistinguishable from acupuncture” and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the needles – called filiform needles – are to be made available only to qualiᗴed practitioners of acupuncture.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies, which houses the board, said it could not comment because it’s an ongoing legal matter.

“PTs provide essential health care and, concerning dry needling, have demonstrated exceptional safety: No PT in Colorado has lost their license or been sanctioned due to improper use of dry needling in patient care,” said Cameron MacDonald, president of the Colorado chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association, in an emailed statement. “PTs are well-trained, receiving more than 3,400 hours of education as postgraduates aᗴer a four-year entry level degree.”

Claiming their petitions to the board to repeal the rule were little more than brushed aside, the AAC and the Colorado Safe Acupuncture Association filed suit in Denver District Court last month to force the issue…

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