We explored relationships of school-based physical therapy to standardized outcomes of students receiving physical therapy.Method:
Using a practice-based evidence research design, School Function Assessment (SFA) outcomes of 296 students with disabilities (mean age 7y 4mo [standard deviation 2y]; 166 males, 130 females), served by 109 physical therapists, were explored. After training, therapists completed 10 SFA scales on students at the beginning and end of the school year. Therapists collected detailed weekly data on services (activities, interventions, types, student participation) using the School-Physical Therapy Interventions for Pediatrics (S-PTIP) system. Stepwise linear regressions were used to investigate S-PTIP predictors of SFA outcomes.Results:
Predictors of SFA section outcomes varied in strength, with the coefficient of determination (R2) for each outcome ranging from 0.107 to 0.326. Services that correlated positively with the SFA outcomes included mobility, sensory, motor learning, aerobic/conditioning, functional strengthening, playground access interventions, and higher student participation during therapy (standardized β=0.11–0.26). Services that correlated negatively with the SFA outcomes included providing services within student groups, within school activity, with students not in special education, during recreation activities, and with positioning, hands-on facilitation, sensory integration, orthoses, and equipment interventions (standardized β=−0.14 to −0.22).Interpretation:
Consideration of outcomes is prudent to focus services. Overall results suggest we should emphasize active mobility practice by using motor learning interventions and engaging students within therapy sessions.