The school physical therapist, as a member of the educational team, supports the education of students suspected of and/or diagnosed with disability in their least restrictive environment. The school physical therapist develops, implements and coordinates a physical therapy program within the local educational agency (LEA); providing screening, evaluation and intervention services. Skilled provision of physical therapy prevents injury (acute or chronic) of both students and educational staff.
What is School-Based Physical Therapy (PT)?
School-based physical therapists work with other professionals to help students with disabilities to benefit from special education. This includes activities of a school day, like: moving throughout school grounds, sitting, standing in line or at the board, moving in class through the building. All screenings, evaluations, consultations, and interventions are performed by physical therapists licensed by the state of North Carolina. Interventions may include adaptations to school environments, working with a student on motor skills, assistance with identifying and getting special equipment, and collaboration with school staff and other professionals.
All children who qualify for clinical (or out-patient) physical therapy, may not qualify for school-based services. A child’s eligibility for services is determined by a multidisciplinary team that includes parents, educators, program facilitators, the students and other special service providers. Recommendations for education based services, including physical therapy, are based upon a thorough review of available information. Findings are shared with the team which uses the information and recommendations to develop an Individualized Education Plan or IEP. If a child qualifies for related services in order to benefit from their special education, they are provided at no cost to families.