Pediatric physical therapists are the “practitioners of choice” to apply evidence-based practices regarding motor skill development, health, wellness, fitness, injury prevention,and obesity management. Gross motor skills and physical activity are among the tools that are essential for academic success. Physical therapists foster academic performance,school participation, and obesity prevention by influencing school programs, routines, and curricula to address the motor proficiency of students in developmentally appropriate ways.
At Academy Learning Center, our school-based physical therapists collaborate with other specialized instructional support personnel and school community members to build student achievement in all gross motor domains that affect academic success and wellness. Our physical therapists develop and provide developmentally appropriate motor programs for all students receiving direct PT services as well as ensuring safe and accessible educational environments for these students. Often physical therapists assist classroom teachers in incorporating movement and activity into their daily instruction. Our physical therapists use various types, frequencies, and methods of service provision for individualized student interventions, and promote skill acquisition, and generalization, to enhance overall development, learning, and student participation in classroom and recreational activities. Interventions are also embedded into the context of student’s classroom activities and routines, including physical education. Therapy services are provided in our well supplied Physical Therapy gym in direct, individualized sessions, or may be provided in the student’s classroom according to each student’s needs.
Our arsenal of therapy equipment includes cutting edge technology such as neuromuscular electrical stimulation devices, therapeutic kinesio tape, a Kaye harness system for partial weight bearing gait training, two electric treadmills, a stationary bicycle, a stepper machine, a variety of weights and balance devices, as well as many therapy balls, adapted tricycles, and the Wii.Teamwork and communication among the student, family, and all ALC professionals are critical to the success of all therapy interventions, and our physical therapists promote this teamwork. Individualized Home Exercise Programs are utilized to assist families in participating in their son/daughter’s physical therapy program. In light of the federal emphasis on success for all students and the escalating obesity epidemic, all school-based physical therapists are encouraged to employ a holistic, preventative approach to address this issue. The PT department in ALC is actively addressing this serious issue for students struggling with obesity.
Physical therapy services in schools are also involved in addressing student transition from school to post secondary and vocational settings. In order to accomplish this at ALC, physical therapy interventions in all age groups, are based on student strengths, needs, and preferences, and address the long term post-school goals. Physical therapy interventions are aimed at students’ ability to succeed in typical community environments by addressing mobility, dynamic postural control, biomechanics (positioning), materials access, public transportation, and assistive technology. Direct therapy activities address functional training in actual work skills as well as functional training in self care and home management. In addition, physical therapists educate students in order to promote lifelong fitness, optimum health, and prevention of secondary impairments associated with developmental disabilities.
For many of our students, the physical therapists are involved in the prescription, application, and fabrication of devices and equipment including wheelchairs, adapted seating systems, standing devices, gait trainers, adaptive tricycles and bicycles, strollers, car seats, and orthotics (braces). At ALC, well established working relationships have been developed with many Durable Medical Equipment vendors and with Orthotists, and as a result, equipment evaluation and ordering can take place on an as needed basis. Providing needed documentation and ongoing monitoring of the entire process is part of the physical therapist’s responsibilities.
The physical therapy department in ALC is a family of caring, well educated, significantly experienced, and dedicated individuals, who have a history of assuring that their students achieve their maximum potential in gross motor skills and motoric functioning, in order that these students may benefit from their entire educational experience.