How do outpatient and school-based PT differ?

What does PT look like in schools?

For school-based physical therapy, the type of service is based on the individual child’s needs and ability to access the curriculum in the school setting. Goals are based on a child’s ability to participate but not necessarily the quality of the movement patterns. For example the focus for a child would be to climb the stairs safely but not focused on the quality of movements such as an alternating leg pattern. The school therapists can identify strategies that the school staff and parents can use to increase a child’s function within the school setting and overall independence. School based services are not intended to replace or be in lieu of medical or rehabilitative physical therapy services.

What does PT look like in an outpatient setting?

Outpatient physical therapy are for children who have goals that are outside of what the school is mandated to address and if their focus is on the quality of movements. Additionally, they work with children who have goals to get back to their previous level of functioning, challenges with functional mobility tasks that are outside of the school environment and work with children that do not qualify for school based services but parents have concerns about quality of movement or other functional mobility tasks.