How Often Does a Student Need Physical Therapy?

Let’s talk about the frequency & duration of PT services in the school setting! Service frequency means how often you will see the student for PT services. Service duration is how long the session lasts.

If you remember all the way back to this post, we discussed some differences between school-based and medical based physical therapy. One of the key differences between school-based and medical based physical therapy is the purpose behind the services. School-based physical therapy must be educationally relevant and function more as a supportive or related service. Thus, unless a physical impairment or disability directly impacts a child’s access to or ability to participate in their education then it’s not addressed. Due to this key difference, service frequencies & durations in the school-based model are often lower & shorter than in the medical model.

When deciding on the frequency & duration of services, there are several factors physical therapists consider. These include:

  • Level of disability & impairments
  • Diagnosis & prognosis 
  • Goals & the amount of time/frequency it will take to address them
  • Impact on education (i.e. a child that is struggling in class or with a specific subject may need a lower service time to not miss as much class)
  • Child’s school schedule
  • Other services (counseling/psychological, behavioral, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy) the student is receiving

While selecting a service frequency & duration is up to the discretion of the physical therapist, input from parents/caregivers and teachers is heavily weighed & considered. 

See y’all next week!


Catherine C. Skelton, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

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