Role and Training of Physical Therapists (PT) for Practice in Early Intervention (EI): A Review of the Literature


Purpose: The purpose of this project was to define EI according to state and federal legislation, examine the role of PT in EI, and to describe the preparation and training of PTs for practice in EI. æMethods: A search was conducted of the following databases: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL), MEDLINE, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, PubMed, and Northeastern University Catalog. æParameters were set to include resources published between 1995 and 2013. ææResults: Sixteen articles were reviewed and information from twelve is included in this literature review. Information from six additional resources (websites and legislation) is also included. EI, created under Part C of the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA), provides multidisciplinary and family-centered services for children ages birth to three years who have or are at risk for developing a disability, and their families. PTs in EI provide direct services (examination and intervention), coordination and planning of care, and family teaching. æPTs must have a degree from an accredited university program but curriculum content varies. A lack of adequate preparation for practice in EI by graduates of entry-level PT programs has been reported. NU offers a certificate program in EI as part of the DPT curriculum. ææDiscussion/Conclusion: This literature review was done to provide background for a study examining training, employment and self-reported competence of NU PT graduates who completed the EI certificate program. Due to its unique clientele and focused roles of PTs in EI, specialized training is needed.