School-Based Physical Therapy: Planning and Intervening for Long-term Function Using Motor Learning Principles

8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Franklin Pierce University
670 N Commercial St
Suite 301
Manchester, NH

6 Contact Hours provided
Handouts provided electronically


This full-day workshop applies the most current evidence from the fields of rehabilitation and education in establishing goals and designing interventions that addresses school and post-school outcomes. The morning session focuses on prognostication and backward planning, while the afternoon translates motor learning principles to school-based practice.

AM: Start with the End in Mind!  Prognostication & Backward Planning for School-based Practice

The annual nature of the IEP, while helpful in addressing the student’s immediate needs, can inadvertently deemphasize long-term planning. As such, despite IDEA stating that “special education…prepare [students] for further education, employment and independent living,” the IEP team often finds itself designing goals and interventions only for the coming year. Thus, the child’s participation in meaningful community pursuits are left off until the student is close to graduation. 

This workshop offers a concrete and practical approach to prognosis and long-term planning, viewing the child as an active member of the community. Participants will learn how the therapist, with the team, can create long-term prognosis and postsecondary goals for students as early as in elementary school. Participants will then apply the concept of backward planning to design interventions and outcome measures that ensure progress towards these postsecondary goals. The presenter will emphasize how providing related services in distinct episodes of care during critical periods of acquisition can maximize opportunities for practice and progress in the least restrictive environment. This session inspires participants to dream big for their students, and provide them the tools to start early in building the foundation to reach these dreams and become active participants in the community.

PM: Train the Brain! Motor Learning Principles for School-based Practice

Generalization of skills allows the child to participate successfully in everyday activities with peers.  Adherence to motor learning principles (MLPs) has been shown to facilitate generalization of motor skills, as well as permanent neurological changes, including stimulation of growth, activity and interconnections within the brain. However, initial research on motor learning focused on adults, especially athletes. Since children are not merely “little adults,” there have been questions about the applicability of MLPs to this population. 

Train the Brain! will provide the latest evidence in MLP for children with and without disabilities. This course will present the research findings and rationale behind such principles as the provision of verbal instruction, demonstration, feedback, motor imagery, variability, frequency, specificity, salience, and self-controlled practice. The presenter will discuss application of these MLPs for the most common childhood diagnoses so participants can translate what they learned from the session into real-life practice. Participants will learn how to incorporate these principles in the child’s therapeutic intervention, physical education and daily routine to help with generalization of skills and improve participation at home, in school and in the community. To this end, the presenter will demonstrate how to collaborate with educators to design motor-learning-principle-rich classrooms and school environment.

Presented by Carlo Vialu, PT, MBA  

Carlo Vialu, PT, MBA, is a physical therapist serving children and youth with medical complexity through St. Mary’s Home Care. He is a co-author and co-publisher of, an evidence-based online resource for pediatric PTs, OTs, and SLPs. He is Founder and Director of, a provider of live continuing education and online discussion group school-based and pediatric therapists. From January 2008 to January 2017, he served as Director of Physical Therapy for the New York City Department of Education, where he oversaw a program with over 700 physical therapists working in more than 1,500 schools. Carlo was lead author of a Special Communication on determining a student's need for school-based PT published in Pediatric Physical Therapy on October 2017. He is the project manager of research on normative data for five mobility tests for school-aged children, on which he has published two articles in Pediatric Physical Therapy. He is also a co-researcher on collaboration between school-based and medical-based pediatric physical therapists. Carlo presents nationally on various topics, including tests & measures, self-determination for children and youth with disabilities, motor learning, special education, and clinical decision-making.

At the end of the morning session, participants will be expected to

1.Utilize evidence and clinical judgment in prognostication of postsecondary outcomes for student with disabilities

2.Create goals and intervention strategies using backward planning to achieve postsecondary goals

3.Provide related services as episodes of care during critical periods of skill acquisition

At the end of the afternoon session, participants will be expected to

1.    Describe the difference between acquisition, retention and generalization of skills as they relate to participation in everyday activities

2.    Identify at least 5 motor learning principles that can be applied to students with disabilities

3.    Develop an intervention plan that incorporates at least 5 motor learning principles

4.    Embed at least 5 motor learning principles into the student’s daily routine





NHAPTA Liberty Square Group
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(857) 702 – 9915