The Road to Dry Needling State Policy in Athletic Training
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Dry needling is a topic of interest within the athletic training profession resulting in efforts by states to address the issue of dry needling use in practice. In this article, we will take a closer look at North Carolina and Nevada which both have policies in place that allow Athletic Trainers (ATs) to perform dry needling if they have completed the appropriate education and training.
Paola Learoyd is the executive director for the North Carolina Board of Athletic Trainer Examiner (NCBATE) and outlines below how dry needling policy was established in North Carolina.
North Carolina does allow dry needling to be practiced by license ATs with 54 hours of BOC approved dry-needling training. This is a policy held by the NCBATE. North Carolina did not pass any legislation to incorporate this policy. Historically, there was a lawsuit between the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association (NCPTA) and the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board (NCALB) that went all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court.1
With this Supreme Court decision, it was proven that dry needling did not fall under the protection of the NCALB as “acupuncture” and that physical therapists could continue to practice it. The NCBATE board under the advisement of their counsel enacted the policy in place and followed the NCPTA’s educational standards for dry needling practice. In October 2019, the NCBATE released their forma statement paper on dry needling.
The Nevada Physical Therapy Board prepared legislation for the Nevada Legislative Commission to establish statutes that allow dry needling to be performed by physical therapists and included ATs. The Nevada Physical Therapy Board formed a dry needling subcommittee to actively seek input. The process for preparing the dry needling statutes took several years and were approved during the 2019 Legislative Session.
After the statutes were approved, both the Nevada Physical Therapy Board and Nevada State Board of Athletic Trainers worked together to develop the regulations. The Nevada Legislative Commission passed regulation for dry needling for physical therapists and ATs at the end of 2020.2