Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Henry C. Wessman


Delivery of Health Care; Physical Therapy


Federal legislation has mandated free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities. Physical therapy is included as one of the related services which must be provided, if needed, to assist students with disabilities to benefit from the educational programs. This creates unique challenges for the physical therapist, who traditionally has provided services in a medical model rather than an educational model. The American Physical Therapy Association has published policies and guidelines for providing physical therapy services in the educational environment; however, each state is encouraged to adapt the guidelines to meet individual needs.

This paper provides a general review of the federal mandates and physical therapy services in the educational environment. It also describes the least restrictive environment, various physical therapy services provided, team models utilized in the educational environment and direct versus indirect physical therapy services.

A continuum of options for providing physical therapy services in the least restrictive environment is presented in this paper. The appendices also include proposed state guidelines for the sections on Least Restrictive Environment and Delivery of Services for physical therapists working in the educational environment in North Dakota.