The Physiotherapy department consists of a team of specialist paediatric therapists who have an in-depth understanding of the broad spectrum of pupils who present in PHS with motor difficulties.
During the School term, Physiotherapists provide therapy intervention to pupils with speech, language and communication difficulties, as well as those with neurological conditions such as Cerebral Palsy. Although the therapeutic interventions on the whole can vary significantly; the main aim of the physiotherapist is to maximise physical and functional independence for pupils both within school and outside in the wider world.
Percy Hedley School provides an onsite and integrated approach where physiotherapy is embedded across the school day to ensure sensory, postural, respiratory and physical needs are met. Onsite physiotherapy maximises learning opportunities and supports opportunities to generalise motor skill development throughout the whole school day. They work with pupils during individual, small group and whole class sessions, all of which are integrated into the school timetable minimising educational disturbance. Therapy objectives and goals are set collaboratively with pupils, families and the multi-disciplinary school team to ensure appropriate & meaningful targets are made.
Physiotherapists work collaboratively with other therapy disciplines to form part of the multi-disciplinary team in school. Transdisciplinary working is supported alongside Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Teachers, Educational Psychologists and Nurses. Communication is also supported with outside agents from the NHS in order to treat the child effectively and holistically.
Pupils with Speech and Language Communication Difficulties
Physiotherapists identify and support those pupils who may require input to assist a delay in gross motor skill development, or for those who have Developmental Coordination Difficulties. Therapy intervention is also tailored to maximise the individual’s self-esteem in a structured sensory appropriate environment, allowing for over-learning and familiarisation. A physically active multi-sensory approach to learning is promoted across the Speech and Language department in order to maximise pupils’ concentration and alertness when accessing the curriculum.
Transdisciplinary therapy intervention is embedded within the curriculum to maximise movement opportunities and motor development. Transdisciplinary sessions (where physiotherapists work in conjunction with the teacher and/or other therapists) may include:
- Mindful Movement
- Hydrotherapy / Swimming
- Motor-Sensory Programmes
Within the department there are also specialist therapists who have formal training in Sensory Integration Therapy. The principles of this approach and resulting strategies employed are used throughout the school to help the pupils to function within their own comfort zones and to achieve and maintain an ideal level of alertness in the classroom.
Children with Cerebral Palsy and Other Neurological Conditions
Physiotherapists who work within this population aim to maximise the physical comfort, function and independence of all pupils. They are trained to complete essential postural, orthopaedic and gross motor assessments which support the management and development of pupils’ physical needs. Standardised assessments further support goal setting with both the pupils and their families. During term time, Physiotherapists can support in the pre and post-orthopaedic care following interventions such as surgery and or Botox.
Physiotherapists can support respiratory chest management to maximise lung function and health whilst pupils are medically well and in school. Respiratory interventions may include manual techniques, suctioning, positioning and tracheostomy care. The school physiotherapy team liaise closely with the school nursing team and NHS services where appropriate.
Transdisciplinary therapy intervention is embedded within the curriculum to support the pupils postural management needs and maximise motor development opportunities. Transdisciplinary sessions may include:
· Postural Programmes (standing frames, wedges, corner seats, walking frames etc)
· Motor-Sensory Programmes
· Rebound Therapy
· Task Series (Conductive Education)
Physiotherapists working within this department also follow the approach of Conductive Education (CE). Regular movement based programmes (Task Series), are implemented to develop motor planning, body awareness, symmetry, proprioception, balance & coordination. CE is an educational approach to a range of motor disorders enabling children to learn how to overcome the specific difficulties they face in everyday life. Rhythmical intention and songs can be used throughout to link language, thought and action and the focus of the session is to develop movement and functional independence skills within lying, seated and standing postures. The principles used within these motor programmes are then utilised by the whole class team across the school day to generalise skills into real life, meaningful contexts.
All physiotherapists working with these pupils have training in Conductive Education and work in a uniquely integrated way in collaboration with teachers, conductors, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and specialist support workers to provide a consistent, structured approach to the physical management of the pupils throughout the school day.
Physiotherapists also support the wider team with safe moving and handling and work in conjunction with the occupational therapists to regularly evaluate guidelines to support staff to ensure safe practice.