What is the issue?
Needle EMG is a diagnostic neuromuscular exam that is used to identify potentially serious neuromuscular diseases ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to Lou Gehrig's Disease. Despite the inherently diagnostic nature of these exams, non-physicians have been aggressively seeking the authority to perform these tests. Patients should know that only physicians should perform an intrusive, complex and intrinsically diagnostic test.
Why is it important?
To be properly performed, needle EMG requires physician training, including an in-depth knowledge of neuromuscular diseases. Also, EMG tests are dynamic and depend upon the observations of the examiner. A physician must be present to see what is happening and decide on the next step in the test, as there is no way to know after the fact whether the test was performed correctly. Misdiagnosis can mean delayed or inappropriate treatment (including surgery) and diminished quality of life.
What is the Academy's position?
The AAN Professional Association (Academy) opposes efforts by non-physicians to permit the performance of needle EMG by non-physicians.
What can you do to help?
The Academy has developed an advocacy toolkit (to the right) to help you advocate on this important issue.
Legislation in North Carolina that revises the North Carolina Physical Therapy Act includes language that states physical therapy can include "the performance of electrodiagnostic, electrophysiologic, and other specialized tests of neuromuscular function or physical capacities."