Physical Therapy

School-based physical therapists (PT’s) support a student’s ability to access their educational environment.  They assist a student’s physical participation in a variety of settings throughout the school day. The primary role of the school PT is to help students benefit from their educational program within the educational environment.  The focus of school based PT is on removing barriers from students’ ability to learn, helping students develop skills which increase their independence in the school environment, and educating school staff about the different considerations required for students with disabilities. Everything we do with students in the school must be educationally relevant. The goal of school based PT is to improve students’ functional abilities in school settings.

School-based physical therapy is different from medical based physical therapy and determining the need for each of these services is different. Medical based physical therapy is typically provided in an outpatient therapy clinic or hospital. These services address quality of movement as well as function. Its primary objective is to maximize the student's skill level and quality of movement. Medically-based services are typically focused on a student’s physical impairments and clinical deficits.

Physical therapy is provided at schools only when it is related to educational needs. Services and goals in the school setting address the student's functional needs in accessing all areas of the school curriculum. Physical therapy interventions are designed to enable the student to travel throughout the school environment; participate in classroom activities; maintain and change positions in the classroom; as well as manage stairs, restrooms, and the cafeteria. School-based therapy is not intended to meet all of the therapeutic needs of a student; rather it is intended to ensure that a student can have physical access to his or her education.

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