Examples of School-Based Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is considered a related service within a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). If your child is determined eligible for educational-based physical therapy services, a physical therapist will be a member of the IEP team and will attend IEP meetings, unless excused from them (for example, if the meeting is not discussing physical therapy goals). The goals of therapy will be decided based on family and teacher input and by testing indicating particular weaknesses related the child’s access to and participation in the educational environment.

In addition to providing direct physical therapy (or instead of), a physical therapist may provide consultation to a child’s educational team (for example, teachers, aides, other therapists, and parents).

The main goals of school-based physical therapy are to improve strength, balance, coordination, and/or mobility. Some examples of activities that a physical therapist targets for improvement include:

  • Maintaining sitting balance in a classroom chair, on the floor during circle time, in the cafeteria, on the school bus, and/or while swinging on the playground
  • Moving from class to class and throughout the school – walking, using walker or wheelchair (if unable to walk unassisted), walking up and down stairs (in school, on/off bus)
  • Navigating playground equipment, riding tricycle/bike, maneuvering on a balance beam, jumping, skipping, throwing/catching a ball, and other activities related to recess or gym class

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