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Orthopedic Impairment Information

What is an Orthopedic Impairment in an educational setting?

Educational Orthopedic Impairment means there is a motor disability stemming from a medical condition such as cerebral palsy, spinal bifida, muscular dystrophy or a traumatic injury that adversely affects the child's ability to access their education.

Orthopedic impairment is defined in the Oregon Administrative Rules as “a motor disability that adversely affects the child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by an anomaly, disease or other conditions (e.g., cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or traumatic injury).” OAR 581-015-2000 (4)(g); however, medical diagnosis alone is not a criteria for service. School therapy is limited in IDEA 2004 and Section 504 to assuring that students have access to their education and are able to learn unique skills related to their disability. Some children with disabilities are independent and able to participate in the general education environment without therapy services to provide modifications or accommodations. These students do not receive school therapy services even though they have a documented disability.

If a child is suspected of having an orthopedic impairment, the following evaluation shall be conducted:

  • A medical statement or a health assessment statement indicating a diagnosis of an orthopedic or neuromotor impairment or a description of the motor impairment;
  • A standardized motor assessment, including the areas of fine motor, gross motor and self-help, when appropriate, by a specialist knowledgeable about orthopedic or neuromotor development;
  • Assessments to determine the impact of the suspected disability:
    • On the child’s educational performance for a school-age child; or
    • On the child’s developmental progress for a preschool child; and
  • Additional evaluations or assessments that are necessary to identify the child’s educational needs.

For a child suspected of having an orthopedic impairment, the child shall meet all of the following minimum criteria:

  • The child has a motor impairment, which results in deficits in the quality, speed or accuracy of movement. These deficits must be documented by a score of two or more standard deviations below the mean in one or more of the three motor areas (fine motor, gross motor, and self-help), or functional deficits in at least two of the three motor areas; and
  • The child’s condition is permanent or is expected to last for more than 60 calendar days. OAR 581-015-2160 (2)(a)(b)
  • The eligibility team must also determine that: (a) “The child’s disability has an adverse impact on the child’s educational performance; and, (b) The child needs special education services as a result of the disability.” OAR 581-015-2160 (3)(a)(b)

Purpose of Regional Programs

Children, birth-to-21, who as a result of their low-incidence disability require specialized services, are eligible for support from Regional Programs. Regional Programs work in collaboration with local school districts, Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) programs, families, and community agencies to provide specialized educational support for children with orthopedic impairments. Regional services for students with orthopedic impairment includes a short-term lending library of adaptive equipment and assistive technology devices for students who receive services through their local school districts or programs. Equipment lending is available for students who are eligible under an Orthopedically Impaired eligibility and who require equipment to meet their educational goals.

Orthopedic Impairment Regional Program Services


The Oregon Department of Education provides a grant to Douglas ESD to support the Statewide Consultative and Resource Services for Orthopedic Impairments (RSOI). Services are available to assist local school districts in meeting the orthopedic impairment needs of students with disabilities who are eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004). IDEA Consultative and Resource Services for Orthopedic Impairments (RSOI) provides consultation and technical assistance to teachers, therapists, administrators and parents to support implementation of federal and state mandates for orthopedic impairment services to school-aged children and youth eligible under IDEA 2004.

For further information about Consultative and Resource Services for Orthopedic Impairments (RSOI), including contact information and resources, please visit Regional and Statewide Services for Students with Orthopedic Impairments.

Oregon Department of Education Disclaimer: This project has been developed in whole or in part with contract funds from the Oregon Department of Education, Office of Student Services. This funding does not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement by the Oregon Department of Education.

Resource Services for Orthopedic Impairments (RSOI)
There is a variety of information and opportunity for mentorship through the Regional and Statewide Services for Children with Orthopedic Impairments (RSOI). The RSOI coordinator and staff can provide invaluable assistance and can direct therapists to discipline-specific mentors within the state. The RSOI website offers publications and a library of books, DVD’s and other resources to assist Oregon therapists who are new to school-based services.

For more information contact Linda Brown 503-947-5825

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