Relationship of therapy to postsecondary education and employment in young adults with physical disabilities

Pediatr Phys Ther. Summer 2011;23(2):179-86. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e318218f110.


Purpose: The relationship of therapy services to postsecondary education and paid employment in young adults with physical disabilities was examined.

Methods: A sample of 1510 youth from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 categorized with orthopedic impairment including cerebral palsy and spina bifida was analyzed using weighted sampling multivariate regression.

Results: At follow-up, 48% participated in postsecondary education and 24% had paid employment. Receiving physical and/or occupational therapy at ages 13 to 16 years was significantly associated with higher levels of enrollment in postsecondary education at ages 19 to 21 years. Social interactions and expressive language skills but not therapy services were associated with paid employment.

Conclusions: Results suggest that therapy services that focus on improvement of upper extremity function, self-care skills, and social skills are associated with participation in postsecondary education. Longer follow-up is needed to effectively examine paid employment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Cerebral Palsy / psychology
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Language
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Spinal Dysraphism / psychology
  • Spinal Dysraphism / rehabilitation*
  • Time Factors
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult