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Technical Standards - DPT


The University of the Cumberlands Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is committed to the education of all qualified individuals, including persons with disabilities who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the technical standards and essential functions of the educational program in which they are enrolled and the profession that they pursue. 

University of the Cumberlands accepts qualified students without regard to disabilities and provides reasonable accommodations in the classroom, housing, food service, or other areas for students with documented disabilities. The University’s obligation to reasonably accommodate any student’s disability ends where the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the University or where the accommodation in question would fundamentally alter the academic program. For accommodations to be provided, a student must complete an Accommodations Application form (available online at  ADA | University of the Cumberlands ( and provide appropriate documentation of the disability. Documentation should include statements from a qualified professional, stating the disability, how the diagnosis was determined, description of functional limitations and specific accommodation recommendations. Accommodations records from a high school or previously attended educational institution may qualify as appropriate documentation, but supplemental documentation may be requested. Additional information regarding accommodations can be found in the Guidelines for Documentation (available online at  ADA | University of the Cumberlands ( When all paperwork is on file, a meeting between the student and the Director will be arranged to discuss possible accommodations before accommodations are formally approved. Students must renew academic accommodations at the start of each new term. Certifications for other accommodations are normally reviewed annually. All accommodations may be reviewed at any time at the request of the student or of the Director of Student Accommodations. 

It is the policy of the program to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and state and local requirements regarding students and applicants with disabilities. Under these laws, no otherwise qualified and competent individual with a disability shall be denied access to or participation in services, programs, and activities solely on the basis of the disability. 

Technical standards and essential functions for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program define the observational, communication, cognitive, affective, and physical capabilities and professional responsibilities deemed necessary to complete the program and to perform as a competent practitioner of physical therapy. In accord with federal regulations established by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the technical standards and essential functions are described to assist each candidate for the educational program in evaluating their prospect for academic and clinical success. Each student is given the opportunity to read and acknowledge their understanding of the standards and functions prior to beginning of the program. Students matriculating through the program must be capable of performing the following standards and functions, with or without reasonable accommodations, throughout the professional curriculum, through a continuous evaluation process to determine ongoing proficiency. When a student’s ability to perform is compromised, the student must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to perform the technical standards and essential functions described. 

Students admitted to and matriculating through the University of the Cumberlands Doctor of Physical Therapy Program must be capable of completing the following technical standards and essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodation: 

Observational Ability 

The student is expected to possess functional vision, hearing, smell, and somatic sensations (touch, pain, temperature, and vibration) sufficient to: 

  • accurately observe and fully participate in academic and healthcare settings. 
  • accurately and completely observe a patient up close and at a distance to be able to obtain a medical history and perform physical examination procedures. 
  • safely and effectively administer physical therapy interventions. 

Communication Ability 

Communication includes speech, language, reading, writing and computer literacy.  The student is expected to possess skills sufficient to: 

  • communicate in oral and written English, and in electronic form effectively and in a timely manner in the academic and healthcare settings. 
  • receive and deliver complex information orally and in writing, and to respond effectively to questions from a variety of sources in the academic and healthcare settings. 
  • use computers for searching, recording, storing, retrieving, and communicating information. 
  • engage in respectful, non-judgmental interactions with individuals from various lifestyles, cultures, races, socioeconomic classes, and abilities. 
  • communicate sensitively, and with a sense of compassion and empathy with all stakeholders in the healthcare and academic settings, such as patients and their family members, caregivers, clinicians, interprofessional team members, payers, policy makers, classmates, faculty, administrative support, and service staff members. 
  • perceive and interpret non-verbal communication to elicit information such as changes in mood 
  • receive and send verbal communication in emergency situations in a timely manner. 
  • effectively educate others using teaching methods that are commensurate with the needs of the learner 

Cognitive Ability 

Problem solving is a critical skill demanded of physical therapists, and requires conceptual, integrative, and quantitative thinking abilities. The student must be able to: 

  • to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize detailed and complex information across the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains to solve problems and make decisions in an effective and timely manner in the academic and healthcare settings. 
  • identify, evaluate and integrate the best evidence for practice with clinical judgment and patient/client values, needs, and preferences to determine the best care for a patient. 
  • comprehend three-dimensional relationships and the spatial and functional relationships of structures, and to analyze and apply this information for problem solving and decision-making. 

Affective (Behavioral and Social) Ability 

Students must: 

  • possess sufficient emotional health and stability required for exercising good judgment and promptly completing all academic and patient care responsibilities. 
  • possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, ethnic backgrounds, and belief systems. 
  • possess qualities of adaptability and flexibility and be able to function in an atmosphere of uncertainty. 
  • be able to self-assess, accept criticism, and assume responsibility for maintaining professional behavior. 
  • demonstrate concern for others, accountability, integrity, honesty, and ethical behavior. 

Motor/Psychomotor Ability 

Physical therapy examination and intervention skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements Students must have sufficient motor function 

  • to carry out gross and fine motor movements necessary for patient care, for movement between facilities and buildings in academic and healthcare environments, and physical stamina to complete demanding didactic and clinical coursework. 
  • to carry out treatment maneuvers with patients of any size and mobility levels including exercising, lifting, transferring, and assisting during ambulation, and be able to accomplish this while assuring their own safety as well as the safety of the patient.  
  • perform physical examinations and administer physical therapy interventions on peers and patients of all genders and sexual preferences, races and ethnicities, belief systems, and abilities along with being examined by peers of all genders and sexual preferences, races and ethnicities, and belief systems. 

Professional Responsibility 

  • It is each student’s responsibility to travel to and from classes and clinical assignments on and off campus on time and possess the organizational skills and stamina for performing required tasks and assignments within allotted time frames. This involves frequent oral, written, and practical examinations or demonstrations. 
  • Students will 
  • take initiative to direct their own learning. They will work cooperatively and collaboratively with other students on assigned projects and participate willingly in a supervisory process involving evaluation of abilities and reasoning skills. 
  • exhibit adherence to policies (including vaccination policies) of the University, the program, and clinical sites. This includes matters ranging from professional grooming, dress, and behavior, to attending to the program’s academic schedule, which may differ from the University’s academic calendar and be subject to change at any time. 
  • demonstrate knowledge of, and practice in a manner consistent with the APTA Code of Ethics and the APTA Core Values 
  • in response to an ethical situation, implement a plan of action that demonstrates sound moral reasoning congruent with core professional ethics and values.    
  • participate in professional and community organizations that provide opportunities for volunteerism, advocacy, and leadership.    
  • advocate for the profession and the healthcare needs of society through legislative and political processes.   
  • identify career development and lifelong learning opportunities, including the role of the physical therapist in the clinical education of physical therapist students.   

Assessment and Treatment Procedures  

Students must be capable of performing the following assessments and treatment procedures, with or without reasonable accommodations. 

Assessment Procedures (including but not limited to) 

  • Anthropometrical measures (length, girth, and volume) 
  • Assistive device fit/use 
  • Balance 
  • Cardiovascular Endurance 
  • Cognitive/mental status 
  • Coordination 
  • Cranial and peripheral nerve function 
  • Developmental stage 
  • Functional abilities 
  • Gait 
  • Joint motion/joint play 
  • Movement patterns 
  • Muscle tone 
  • Pain 
  • Palpation 
  • Posture 
  • Pulmonary system 
  • Reflexes 
  • Sensation 
  • Skin integrity 
  • Soft tissue 
  • Strength 
  • Vascular integrity 
  • Vital signs 
  • Wound status 

Treatment Procedures (included by not limited to) 

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) 
  • Balance training 
  • Exercise techniques 
  • Gait training 
  • Transfer training 
  • Bed mobility training 
  • Functional training 
  • Coordination training 
  • Postural correction 
  • Prosthetic/orthotic training 
  • Joint mobilization/manipulation 
  • Wound care 
  • Wheelchair prescription and mobility training 
  • Electrotherapy 
  • Soft tissue mobilization and massage 
  • Techniques of neurosensory approaches 
  • Thermal agents 
  • Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation 
  • Developmental activities 
  • Hydrotherapy 
  • Recommend architectural adjustments  
  • Tilt table 
  • Relaxation techniques 
  • Postural drainage 
  • Traction 
  • Patient education 


Graduation from a physical therapist education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; phone; 703-706-3245; is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

Effective October 25, 2022, the University of the Cumberlands Physical Therapy Program has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; phone: 703-706-3245; email: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 606.539.4251 or email Candidate for Accreditation is an accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status does not assure that the program will be granted Initial Accreditation.

For additional accreditation information, please click here