Physical therapy is a related service provided to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. School physical therapy focuses on a child's ability to move as independently as possible in the school environment. The school physical therapist evaluates the child's ability to move throughout the school and to participate in classroom activities.
The decision of whether a child with a disability qualifies for school physical therapy is made by a team. This team determines whether the child has a disability, has a need for special education, and requires related services such as physical therapy.
Physical therapy interventions are designed to enable the student to travel throughout the school environment; participate in classroom activities; maintain and change positions in the classroom; as well as manage stairs, restrooms, and the cafeteria.
Approximately 6,158 children receive school based physical therapy. There are 280 school based physical therapists and 40 physical therapist assistants in Wisconsin public schools.
Evidence Based Practices
- Powerpoint Presentation on Using Systematic Reviews to Inform Practice developed by Dr. Steven Cope, Concordia University of Wisconsin, October 27, 2005
- Online Database List for finding abstracts and citations for individual articles and systematic reviews related to physical therapy
- Searching Tips for using online databases
Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy: A Resource and Planning Guide
OT and PT Resource and Planning Guide
This publication will help school staff and parents better understand the key roles occupational therapists and physical therapists play in the lives of children who need their services to benefit from their education. Their work supports our shared goal that every child will graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the workforce and/or higher education.
New to Schools Bootcamp for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), Occupational Therapists (OTs), and Physical Therapists (PTs)
Are you an SLP, OT or PT professional with 5 or fewer years of experience working in a school setting? Whether you are a new graduate or shifting job settings, this series is for you! From federal and state regulations to comprehensive evaluations and evidence-based, best practices, this series will prepare early career and new to schools professionals for school-based service delivery. Click on the SLP-OT-PT Bootcamp Flier for more information and registraiton.
Additional Resources for Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy
Joint Statement on Interprofessional Collaborative Goals in School-Based Practice , American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
What is the Role of the School-Based Occupational Therapy Practitioner?, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
- Department of Regulation and Licensing Physical Therapy Page
- Archives of School Therapy Newsletters
- Employment opportunities in school-based physical therapy are found at the State of Wisconsin Job Seeker link.
- License application for a school physical therapist or school physical therapist assistant.