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Occupational and Physical Therapy Department

Occupational and Physical Therapy Department

Occupational Therapists
Sarah Dobrowolski, M.S., OTR/L
[email protected]

Janet Kappan, M.S., OTR/L
janet,[email protected]

Sandy Sklenar, M.S., OTR/L
[email protected]

Michelle Viggiano, M.S., OTR/L
[email protected]
Certified Occupational Therapist Assistants
Jennifer DeCerbo, COTA/L
Breann ThompsonCOTA/L 
[email protected]

Physical Therapist
Frank Bell, M.S, PT/L

[email protected]

Understanding School-Based Occupational and Physical Therapy Intervention

Occupational Therapy 

Young boy participating in occupational therapy; molding clay 
What is Occupational Therapy? 
Occupational Therapy is the practice of treating people through the use of everyday activities, or occupations, so they can participate in the activities they want and need to do.  
How does a student qualify for Occupational Therapy services?
The process for determining  OT services begins with a referral for an evaluation based on concerns related to the child’s functional abilities in the school setting. Next, the Occupational Therapist performs an evaluation which assesses the skills required throughout the school day which the child needs to access the educational curriculum. The need for occupational therapy must be educationally relevant and therefore directly related to helping the child achieve success in the school environment.  A physical or intellectual disability does not automatically quality a child for occupational therapy.  The OT consults with members of the child’s educational Team to determine whether a child receives occupational therapy in school.

Physical Therapy

Boy receiving Physical Therapy Services in school 


What is physical therapy in the educational setting?
Receiving physical therapy (PT) services in the schools is an option for many physically challenged children.  Through therapeutic interventions, many students learn new skills and are able to participate more fully in school activities.  PT services in schools are mandated by law to be centered on improving the ability of physically challenged children to participate in school based activities.  Walking, wheelchair skills, transfers, balance and endurance activities are often addressed in the therapy sessions. Children who receive services must have a permanent disability.  Therapy is not provided for acute injuries or conditions which are non-permanent. Receiving PT services isn’t automatic, even for those children who have a known physical disability. 
How do students qualify for Physical Therapy services?
The process for determining services begins with a referral for an evaluation based on concerns related to the child’s functional abilities in the school setting.  Next, the physical therapist performs an evaluation of the student examining their strength, ability to move their arms, legs, trunk and head and examines mobility skills such as pushing a wheelchair or walking.  The therapist consults with the educational Team and other medical providers if needed and the together a determination is made as to whether physical therapy will help to improve the child’s participation in school related activities.

What are Physical Therapy Interventions?
PT interventions may include the following:

  • training and education regarding the nature of the child’s physical challenges
  • activities and exercises designed to address the child's limitations
  • assistance obtaining and using related therapeutic equipment
Good communication and interaction between teachers, parents and supportive staff focusing on the child’s abilities and limitations is important during the course of these interventions.  The primary focus of the interventions will be outlined in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
  • Preschool