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School Based Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a related service provided to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. School physical therapy focuses on a child's ability to move as independently as possible in the school environment. The school physical therapist evaluates the child's ability to move throughout the school and to participate in classroom activities.

The decision of whether a child with a disability qualifies for school physical therapy is made by a team. This team determines whether the child has a disability, has a need for special education, and requires related services such as physical therapy.

Physical therapy interventions are designed to enable the student to travel throughout the school environment; participate in classroom activities; maintain and change positions in the classroom; as well as manage stairs, restrooms, and the cafeteria.

Approximately 6,158 children receive school based physical therapy. There are 280 school based physical therapists and 40 physical therapist assistants in Wisconsin public schools.

Evidence-Based Practice

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy: A Resource and Planning Guide

NEWOT and PT Resource and Planning Guide
This publication will help school staff and parents better understand the key roles occupational therapists and physical therapists play in the lives of children who need their services to benefit from their education. Their work supports our shared goal that every child will graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the workforce and/or higher education.


Brochure: Orientation for OTs and PTs New to School-Based Practice, An Online Web Course, September 12-26, 2011.

Information Resources