What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?
Physical Therapy (PT) services are provided by
licensed therapists to students with physical impairments that prevent or
significantly limit their ability to access their educational environment. Pediatric physical therapy goals are
related to mobility and movement, posture and positioning, and safely accessing
surroundings so that students have full access to their education.
School Based Physical Therapy
Physical therapists are members of a
multidisciplinary school team that ensures a free and appropriate education for
students with disabilities to prepare them for further education, employment,
and independent living. Using their unique expertise in movement and function,
particularly related to the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems, the school-based
physical therapist promotes motor development and the student’s participation
in everyday routines and activities that are part of the educational program.
- A doctor’s prescription is
required by Illinois State Law to initiate physical therapy.
- In the school setting, PT is a
related service. Under federal regulation, it is a service that the IEP
team determines is required in order for a child with a disability to
benefit from his or her program of specially designed instruction.
- PT services in the school
setting differ from those in rehabilitation, early intervention, and other
medical settings both in scope and in intent. Schools are not
mandated to provide any and all pediatric PT to enrolled students. The
proposed therapy program goals MUST be educationally-relevant and address
how the student’s disability affects classroom performance rather than the
disability itself. To qualify for PT services, it must be shown that the
unique skills and expertise of the PT are needed to assist the child to
benefit from education.
is possible that a student may need physical therapy in the clinic setting or
early intervention but may not be eligible in the educational setting.
- Physical therapy practitioners
may provide direct service (one on one or in groups), consultation, and monitoring based on the
student’s goal plan. Therapists may help make modifications to a student’s
environment and activities in order to increase participation.
Intervention occurs in the student’s least restrictive environment, which
usually means integrating therapy into the student’s classroom schedule or