Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Peggy Mohr


Disabled Persons -- education; Teaching -- methods


Background and Purpose. Students with physical disabilities have been included in regular education classrooms, under IDEA, since the 1970's. Research has shown that many teachers do not feel adequately prepared for adapting their classrooms for a student with physical disabilities. The purpose of this study is to assess the perceived needs of regular educators in North Dakota and determine what ways physical therapists can offer assistance to educators when accommodating for a student with physical disabilities.

Subjects and Methods. Six hundred and fifty questionnaires were sent out to randomly selected, North Dakota teachers via the mail (325) and email (325). The questionnaires requested information regarding: demographics, perceived competencies, where they seek assistance, and areas of need for more information. A descriptive analysis was then performed comparing the returned survey responses.

Results. Of the 650 questionnaires sent out, 324 (49.8%) fit the criteria to be analyzed for purposes of this study. Women (x2=.049) and elementary teachers (p=.031) significantly felt the most competent in adapting their classrooms for students with physical disabilities, and were more likely to utilize outside resources such as occupational (x2<.001) and physical therapists (x2<.001). High school teachers were least likely to feel competent (p=.031). There was not a significant difference between general and special educators' feelings of competency, however, special educators perceived themselves slightly higher than regular educators in all categories. North Dakota educators indicated need for education in adapting environments (62.3%), handling and positioning techniques (59%), defining roles and responsibilities of team members (54.3 %), sources for adaptive equipment (51.2%), and basic guidelines for medical procedures (45.7%).

Discussion and Conclusion. This study corresponded with other recent research in showing a need for further teacher education on the inclusion of students with physical disabilities into the regular education classroom. The responses indicated a request for moderate to maximum assistance in all topic areas related to physical disabilities. Physical therapists may be of assistance in this area because of their knowledge of physical disabilities. More research is needed in this area, as North Dakota teachers were the only representatives of this study.