Before “Sports Therapists” became mainstream, the athletic trainer played a vital role in the sports medicine team at all levels of the American sporting spectrum. Sports Physical Therapy is a specialized practice that focuses on prevention, evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement.
A sport therapist requires deep knowledge, skills, expertise and competencies in six key areas. These are defined as the ‘pillars of knowledge or competencies’ in the athletic therapy community.
1. Prevention of injury:
Identifies injury/illness risk factors associated with participation in competitive athletics and plans and implement a comprehensive prevention program
2. Recognition and evaluation of injury:
Conducts and thorough initial clinical evaluation of injuries
3. Injury management, treatment:
Comprehensive athletic injury emergency care plan including:
a) personnel training, b) equipment, c) emergency care facilities, d) communication systems,
e) transportation, f) game and practice coverage, and g) record keeping
4. Rehabilitation and performance enhancement:
Plans and implements a comprehensive rehabilitation/reconditioning program
5. Organization and administration:
Plans, co-ordinates and supervises all administrative components of an athletic therapy/training program
6. Ongoing counselling and education:
Provides health care information and counsels athletes, parents and coaches on matters pertaining to the physical, psychological and emotional health and well-being of the athlete.
To demonstrate true competency in sports therapy is to be able to safely, effectively and autonomously demonstrate the ability to assess, manage and advise their athletes — this includes their fitness, their injuries, their need and ultimately, goals. This is easier said than done, and clearly it takes time, effort and dedication but a great sport therapist will achieve such competency.
The goal of any rehabilitation program is to improve functional movement. The drills and exercises that are used to heal the injury can also be used to prevent it. The maintenance stage is when you continue doing functional exercises that maintain the flexibility, strength, and endurance of the muscles. Adding some simple exercises used with rehab to your normal training routine can help with preventing the old injury from coming back or new injuries happening.
Seeing someone for help after you have injured yourself can be difficult if you do not understand the rehabilitation process. Having a general idea about the principles and stages of rehab help you learn what to expect and help you become an active participant. When an injury happens stay positive and focused on the goals you and your therapist have put together. Allow time for your body to heal and your mind will be ready to compete again soon.