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Students - Student Support / Health & Nursing Services - Physical Therapy Services

Physical Therapy (PT) is a related service to be provided to students with disabilities. Related services are defined in Article 7 as services which are required in order for the student to benefit from special education. The appropriateness and extent of PT services must be directly related to the child’s ability to be successful in the recommended special education program. In other words, Physical Therapy services, if not provided, would prevent the student from participating in, or receiving benefit from the educational program. If the student has an identifiable therapy need that does not affect the student’s ability to learn and profit from the educational experience, that therapy is not the responsibility of the local educational agency.

The goal of therapy is to prepare the student to function independently in the areas where mastery is possible or to provide adaptations for the student who may require assistance in certain areas of performance.

The New Albany/Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation Physical Therapy Department currently consists of a Physical Therapist and a Physical Therapy Assistant. The current PT personnel has over 40 years combined experience working with children ages 3 – 21 years.

Physical Therapy is the acquisition and
functional use of gross motor skills. Gross
motor skills refer to the control and
coordination of the large muscles of the
body.

APPLICATIONS TO THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS
• Mobility – important for active participation in school activities and permits the student to experience incidental learning, to develop self-worth, and to assume appropriate age-level responsibilities.
• Balance – necessary for safe sitting, safe walking, and freely changing positions. Problems in this area will result in difficulty standing in line, sitting within a group on the floor, walking down the hall, and negotiating stairs.
• Range of motion – limited range of joint movement can lead to interference with functional use of arms or legs as required for sitting, reaching for objects, etc.
• Muscle strength, muscle tone, endurance – limited strength and endurance may inhibit the student from keeping up with peers in PE, fatigue easily, may demonstrate a difference in a.m. vs. p.m. performance, or the ability to move books and school supplies. Muscle tone (too much or too little) can cause difficulty with head control, maintaining sitting balance at a desk, walking, running, or moving about the educational environment.
• Adaptations – wedges, prone standers, corner sitters, etc. may be used to assist the student in more effective interaction with the school environment or aide the classroom staff in working with the student.

SERVICE DELIVERY MODEL FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY

The service delivery model is designed: 1) to help determine a student’s eligibility for the related services of PT in the educational setting; and 2) to help determine the intensity of services the student may require. It is based on the educational goals that indicate therapy and on the student’s need for and expected response to the intervention therapy. The guide to estimating the most appropriate level of service and the frequency of that intervention is based on the premise that: the NEED for therapy and the related GOALS help determine the type of delivery of service and the frequency of therapy.
The greater the student’s potential for improvement in physical and/or functional abilities, the greater the need for therapy to realize that potential. The potential for change is determined by many factors:
• The student’s disability
• Chronological age
• Intellectual functioning
• Attention span
• Medical restrictions
Many students have a combination of needs that can be served by the therapy practitioner and the teacher working in a cooperative manner. In all cases, the therapist works with the teacher, other school personnel and parents to help the student learn and profit from the educational program.

WHAT IS PHYSICAL THERAPY IN THE EDUCATIONAL SETTING?

Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are part of the special education team within a school district. Physical therapy evaluates and treats deficits in the acquisition and use of gross motor skills for students already receiving special education services. Gross motor skills refer to the control and coordination of the large muscles of the body. Physical therapy practitioners prepare the student to function independently in the areas where mastery is possible and provide adaptations for the student who may require assistance in certain areas of performance.

Physical Therapy (PT) is a related service to be provided to students with disabilities. Related services are defined in Article 7 as “services which are required in order for the student to benefit from special education.” The appropriateness and extent of PT services must be directly related to the student’s ability to be successful in the recommended special education program. In other words, PT services, if not provided, would prevent the student from participating in or receiving benefit from the educational program. If the student has an identifiable therapy need that does not affect the student’s ability to learn and profit from the educational experience, that therapy is not the responsibility of the local educational agency.

SERVICE DELIVERY MODEL

The service delivery model is designed: 1) to help determine a student’s eligibility for the related services of Physical therapy in the educational setting; and 2) to help determine the intensity of services the student may require. It is based on the educational goals that indicate therapy and on the student’s need for and expected response to the intervention therapy. The guide to estimating the most appropriate level of service and the frequency of that intervention is based on the premise that: the NEED for therapy and the related GOALS help determine the type of delivery of service and the frequency of therapy.

The greater the student’s potential for improvement in physical and/or functional abilities, the greater the need for therapy to realize that potential. The potential for change is determined by many factors:
• The student’s disability
• Chronological age
• Intellectual functioning
• Attention span
• Medical restrictions
Many students have a combination of needs that can be served by the therapy practitioner and the teacher working in a cooperative manner. In all cases, the therapist works with the teacher, other school personnel and parents to create a beneficial learning environment.



WHEN TO REFER

Students may be referred for a Physical therapy evaluation by teachers, parents, therapists, or other members of the case conference committee. Only a case conference committee can recommend a referral for related services, of which Physical therapy is one. The reason for referral may be a concern in one or more of the following areas that significantly impact the student’s performance in their educational program.



APPLICATIONS TO THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS

• Mobility – important for active participation in school activities and permits the student to experience incidental learning, to develop self-worth, and to assume appropriate age-level responsibilities. Mobility may include walking, gait trainers, assistive devices, and manual or motorized wheelchairs.
• Balance – necessary for safe sitting, safe walking, and freely changing positions. Problems in this area will result in difficulty standing in line, sitting within a group on the floor, walking down the hall, and negotiating stairs.
• Range of motion – limited range of joint movement can lead to interference with functional use of arms or legs as required for sitting, reaching for objects, etc.
• Muscle strength/endurance – limited strength and endurance may inhibit the student from participating with peers during gross motor activities taking place in a school day. Problems in this area may cause the student to fatigue easily, a difference between am vs. pm performance, participate in PE class, and difficulty in the ability to move books and school supplies.
• Muscle tone (too much or too little) – can cause difficulty with head control, maintaining sitting balance at a desk, walking, running, or moving about the educational environment.
• Adaptations – wedges, prone standers, corner sitters, wheelchairs, adapted desks, etc. may be used to assist the student in more effective interaction with the school environment, aide the classroom staff in working with the student, assist the student with accessing and manipulating classroom tools.


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