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Physical Therapy

CONTACT :: Laurie Ray, Consultant 919.636.1827

The physical therapy consultant serves as a resource to local education agencies, EC directors, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, parents and students. The consultant is available for on-site, telephone or email consultation for best practice information, resources, program planning and all aspects of school-based physical therapy services.

What is School Based Physical Therapy (PT)?

School-based physical therapists work with other professionals to help students with disabilities to benefit from special education. This includes activities of a school day, like: moving throughout school grounds, sitting, standing in line or at the board, moving in class or through the building. All screens, evaluations, consultations, and interventions are performed by physical therapists licensed by the state of North Carolina. Interventions may include adaptations to school environments, working with a student on motor skills, assistance with identifying and getting special equipment, and collaboration with school staff and other professionals.

All children, who qualify for clinical (or out patient) physical therapy, may not qualify for school-based services. A child’s eligibility for services is determined by a multidisciplinary team that includes parents, educators, program facilitators, the student and other special service providers. The team gathers information about a child’s functional abilities and physical development relevant to their education. This information comes from a variety of sources including parents or caregivers, direct observation, medical and teacher reports, assessment tools, and information or input from community agencies. Recommendations for education based services, including physical therapy, are based upon a thorough review of available information. Findings are shared with team which uses the information and recommendations to develop an Individual Education Program  or IEP. If a child qualifies for related services in order to benefit from their special education, they are provided at no cost to families.

Who Provides School Based Physical Therapy?

Only physical therapists and physical therapist assistants licensed by the state of North Carolina may provide physical therapy in North Carolina schools.


Supervision of Physical Therapist Assistants

Reference--NC Board of Physical Therapy Examiners Newsletter, Summer 2004, Forum: Questions and Answers.

Question: On page V of the Directory of Licensees, it states “If the PTA is involved in the plan of care, the patient must be reassessed by the supervising PT no less frequently than every 30-days”. I work in a school system and supervise PTAs that carry out the IEP/PCP. In the school based therapy setting, can that reassessment be in the form of a no less than monthly conversation between the treating PTA and the PT in which they review the IEP goals, the effectiveness of the therapeutic interventions being used, and the need, if any, for a direct visit with the student or any changes. If it is determined that a direct visit is needed, one will then be arranged by the supervising PT to occur either separate from or in conjunction with the time at which the PTA is treating the student. Does this monthly procedure meet the “reassessment” requirement to which you are referring?

Answer: In the discussion of your question below by the Board, John M. Silverstein (Board Attorney) referred the Board to the following rule:

(j) If a physical therapist assistant or physical therapy aide is involved in the patient care plan, the patient must be reassessed by the supervising physical therapist no less frequently than every 30 days.

The Board determined that the 30-day rule would be applicable in all settings; therefore, the physical therapist must see and reassess that patient/client not less frequently than every 30-days and that this reassessment may not be defined as a conversation between a PT & PTA in which they review the IEP goals, the effectiveness of the therapeutic interventions being used, and the need, if any, for a direct visit with the student.

Professional Education Programs

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