October is National Physical Therapy month! Physical therapists are licensed healthcare professionals who work with patients across their lifespan to help improve their quality of life by decreasing pain and improving mobility and function. Pediatric physical therapists work with children, their families and caregivers to help them reach their maximum potential to function independently in all areas of their life including the home, school, and community. They work on promoting independence, facilitating motor development and function, improving strength and endurance, increasing access to participate in learning opportunities, and decreasing challenges in their daily life.
Pediatric physical therapists focus primarily on gross motor skills as they relate to development, mobility, and positioning. They also assist families and schools by making recommendations for positioning and mobility equipment as well as helping them through the process of obtaining this equipment.
Area Education Agency 267 (AEA 267) provides physical therapy services to children and students to allow them to access and participate in a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. These services are provided for children birth to age 21 as mandated by federal law under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
From birth to three, early intervention services are provided in the home or other areas of the child’s environment free of cost to eligible children. The physical therapist works as part of a multidisciplinary team to help the family with activities to enhance development through positioning during daily activities, expanding mobility options, safe use of equipment, and assisting with transition from early childhood to the school setting.
In the school setting, starting at age 3 through 21, physical therapists work to support a student’s individualized education plan (IEP) through collaboration with other members of the IEP team by providing screening, evaluation, program planning, and intervention. The primary focus of physical therapy interventions in the school setting is to assist the student in accessing their educational environment and benefitting from their educational program. Physical therapists also teach and train families, teachers, and other school personnel to help carry out interventions and monitor student progress.
For more information on physical therapy services offered through Area Education Agency 267, contact Mandy Burns, AEA 267 Physical Therapist at 641-753-3564 or 1-800-735-1539. Area Education Agency 267 serves over 60,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.