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Physical Therapy

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What Role Does a Physical Therapist Play in the Schools?

A Physical Therapist in the school setting assists the educators in facilitating a learning environment for success. This means that unlike a private Physical Therapist (one in a hospital or clinic), the school PT assures that each child is capable of functioning in the school setting by determining the following: Can a child with muscle weakness independently climb the steps to make it to class? Is the building accessible for the child? Can the child walk efficiently to make it to class on time? Does the child have sufficient range of motion and strength to allow him/her to sit in a classroom chair, maneuver safely on the playground equipment or stand up from the floor?

While some children may have special needs related to orthopedic or neurological functions, it is the school PT's responsibility to intervene on the behalf of these children when these problems interfere with their education. If a child undergoes surgery and requires daily range of motion exercises, this is not within the realm of a school PT, but rather a private PT. If a surgery prevents the child from maneuvering as he/she did prior to surgery, it would become an area for a school PT to address (e.g. wheelchair mobility, instruction in use of walker/canes for walking).
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