The profession of physical therapy is built on the principle of preserving, developing, and promoting independent physical function. Physical therapists (PTs) use their unique expertise to facilitate the development of children’s abilities to access and participate in their natural environments and coach families/caregivers and school staff to further support the child’s progress. PT interventions, strategies, and adaptations are embedded where possible into the activities and routines within the child’s learning environment and focus on promoting functional mobility, positioning, and safe and efficient participation.
Physical Therapists in Prince George’s County Public Schools support children with disabilities birth to age 21. Under IDEA 2004, PTs contribute to the team decision-making by determining strengths and needs of a child with a disability in the development of an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP). For the child/student who has a disability and does not require specialized instruction, PT may contribute to the school team development of a 504 Accessibility Plan for access and participation in the general curriculum.
Who are physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs)?
PTs and PTAs are highly qualified, licensed professionals who specialize in the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to movement, function, and health. PTs /PTAs must have successfully completed an accredited program and maintain specific licensure requirements in order to practice in the state of Maryland.
What is the foundation of physical therapy practice?
Physical therapists strive to help children with disabilities participate in daily life by designing and implementing interventions and strategies to promote their engagement in daily activities and routines that are important to children, families and teachers. The natural environment provides the setting for child/student skill development and refinement. The PT may not define the child/student by his/her deficits but rather by the extent he/she can participate in “real life” situations despite limitations imposed by a diagnosis.
What is a “natural environment”?
IDEA defines natural environment as the variety of home and community settings where children perform everyday routines and learning activities. The primary goal of PT in public education is to enable children with disabilities (birth to 21) to benefit from general and special education and to participate and progress in the natural environment/general education curriculum in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This can be accomplished in multiple ways including services to the child, on behalf of the child, and in support of the parent/teacher/caregiver and other team members working with the child.