Physical Therapy (PT) is a service provided by a qualified physical therapist. IN the educational setting, physical therapy is considered a related service. Related services are "developmental, corrective and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education."(1) Physical therapy in the education setting focuses specifically on assisting the student in accessing and participating in their education. The IEP/ARD committee makes the decision as to whether physical therapy is needed for the student to make progress in their special and/or general education setting upon review of evaluation reports, student data and input from the team members. A prescription for physical therapy services must be obtained from a qualified helathcare practitioner before direct PT treatment can occur.
In addition to academics, educational benefit includes any school function that the IEP team decides is essential for the student's educational experience.(2) Mobility concerns may occur throughout the student's daily school routine. Areas of participation that are evaluated are the classroom, transitions, bathroom, mealtime, recess, playground, and transportation. The whole school can become an opportunity for practice and participation. Most often practice is maximized by creating opportunities into the student's regular school routine. The physical therapist collaborates with educational staff to afford daily opportunities for practice in the least restrictive environment.
1. Public Law 108–446, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 118 STAT. 2647–2808. Available at: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/pl108-446.pdf
2. Mcwen IR. Deciding who should receive physical therapy under IDEA. In: McEwen IR, ed. Providing Physical Therapy Services under Parts B & C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Richmond, VA: American Physical Therapy Association; 2009:37-48.