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Determining Need for School-Based Physical Therapy Under IDEA: Commonalities Across Practice Guidelines

Vialu, Carlo PT, MBA; Doyle, Maura PT, DPT, MS, PCS

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000448
Special Communication

Background and Purpose: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes physical therapy (PT) as a related service that may be provided to help students with disabilities benefit from their education. However, the IDEA does not provide specific guidance for the provision of school-based PT, resulting in variations in practice across the United States. The authors examined 22 state and local education agency guidelines available online to find commonalities related to the determination of a student's need for PT.

Results and Conclusions: Seven commonalities found: educational benefit, team decision, need for PT expertise, establishment of Individualized Education Program (IEP) goal before determining need for PT, distinction between medical and educational PT, the student's disability adversely affects education, and the student's potential for improvement. These commonalities are discussed in relation to current PT and special education literature. This article suggests applying these commonalities as procedural requirements and questions for discussion during an IEP team meeting.

The authors examined 22 state and local education agency guidelines available online to find commonalities related to the determination of a student's need for physical therapy.

Apply EBP, LLC (Mr Vialu), New York, New York; Physical Therapy Department (Dr Doyle), New York City Department of Education, New York, New York.

Correspondence: Carlo Vialu, PT, MBA, Apply EBP, LLC, 234 East 35th St., New York, NY 10016 (cvialu@gmail.com).

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (www.pedpt.com).

At the time this article was written, Carlo Vialu was the Director of Physical Therapy at the New York City Department of Education, Physical Therapy Department, New York.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. and Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association. All rights reserved.