Physical Therapy Services
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School-age physical therapy services provide our component districts with expertise and staff to address the gross motor needs of their students. Physical therapists evaluate the functional skills of students with disabilities to identify barriers that the student experiences to physically accessing and participating in their educational environment.
An essential aspect of effective physical therapy services in schools is the provision of consultation and collaboration with the student’s educational team. Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants seek teach classroom staff to implement strategies that support safe access and participation for the student in all settings throughout each school day.
Consultation is a broad term that provides therapists with flexibility to focus on a student’s changing needs over the course of the year using a variety of methods. Consultation occurs in the educational environment in which the student participates and with the staff pertinent to the student’s success.
Consultation by physical therapists and physical therapy assistants can include a variety of activities and interventions. Examples include:
- Direct instruction of functional skills
- Demonstration, training, and coaching of staff
- Attendance at IEP and other team meetings
- Communication with outside medical providers and translation of medical needs to a school team
- Fitting and facilitating the use of equipment related to positioning or mobility
- Specialized planning regarding mobility
- Support for students on field trips or participating in outdoor school.
Physical therapists can participate in evaluation in a variety of ways. They use standardized assessments, functional assessments, observational information and input from classroom and school staff to describe current levels of a student’s function, identify barriers and areas of need, and document progress.
Physical therapy staff provide on-going student-specific and general professional development to classroom staff who work directly with students. Physical therapists are motivated by a commitment to role release, building the capacity of those who work with students every day in their ability to incorporate the concepts and techniques of physical therapy into their daily interactions and work.
Physical therapists also provide topic-specific training to district staff as needed and requested. Training topics can include:
- Understanding the service model: How to utilize your physical therapy team
- Transfer training and proper ergonomics for staff when working with students
- Training for specific pieces of equipment that a student uses during their school day