As per the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the pediatric physical therapist “promotes the highest quality of life for all children, people with developmental disabilities, and their families... as practitioners of choice for children (birth to 21 years) with or at risk for movement dysfunction.” (2015) The physical therapy staff of Piscataway Regional Day School, with an average of ten plus years of experience per practioner, strongly concurs with this statement. We use a wide variety of evidence based techniques and strategies to help promote the functional independence of each student within their educational environment. To properly address all possible gross motor concerns a student may have throughout the school day, our influence is seen and felt within the classroom, the gym, the lunchroom, and within community and vocational sites.
Members of the physical therapy staff work mostly in a dedicated therapy gym and in the classroom when needed. With appropriate students, we also participate in scheduled swimming programs and field trips. Individual physical therapy services are provided as per the student’s IEP mandates, with goals geared towards maximum functional independence in the each student’s educational setting. Some (but not all) of the techniques used include passive stretching, strength training, task specific motor training, endurance and aerobic training, motor planning, posture and positioning training (staff and students), and sensory-motor techniques. We regularly meet with other members of the student’s educational/therapy team to ensure carry-over throughout the school day, across all disciplines. We set up and train staff in regular positioning schedules, and address each student’s seating needs to maximize his or her physical readiness to participate in physical school tasks.
We pride ourselves on strong and frequent communication with families. The physical therapy staff works with parents and guardians to help them become strong advocates for their children, as well as providing HEP’s (home exercise plans) and functional expertise during onsite equipment and vendor appointments. Durable medical equipment and orthotic appointments can take place on site, negating the need for families to make outside trips that busy schedules may not permit. Parents are also invited, when appropriate, to receive training in HEP’s and other practices to help maintain their child’s functional status within the home, promoting even better functional progress overall.