Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are part of the special education team within the school district. Physical therapy evaluates and treats deficits in the acquisition and use of gross motor skills for students already receiving special education services. Gross motor skills refer to the control and coordination of the large muscles of the body.
Applications to the Educational Process
- Mobility – important for active participation in school activities and permits the student to experience incidental learning and to assume age appropriate responsibilities.
- Balance – necessary for safe sitting, safe walking, and freely changing positions.
- Range of motion – limited range of joint movement can lead to interference with functional use of arms and legs as is required sitting and reaching for objects, etc.
- Muscle strength/endurance – limited strength and endurance may inhibit the student from participating with peers during gross motor activities taking place during the school day.
- Muscle tone (too much or too little) – can cause difficulty with head control, maintaining sitting balance at a desk, walking, running, or moving about the educational environment.
- Adaptations – wedges, prone standers, corner sitters, wheelchairs, adapted desks, etc. may be used to assist the student in more effective interaction with the school environment, aide the classroom staff in working with the student, assist the student with accessing and manipulating classroom tools.