Athletic Therapy: What is it?
Athletic Therapy is the prevention, immediate care and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries by a Certified Athletic Therapist.
It involves the assessment of physical function, the treatment of dysfunction caused by pain and/or injury in order to develop, maintain and maximize independence and prevent dysfunction.
Who needs Athletic Therapy?
Patients are varied and can include but are not limited to people with a musculoskeletal injury that may be active individuals, injured workers, motor vehicle accident injuries, recreational athletes, professional athletes and competitive amateur athletes.
A Certified Athletic Therapist, CAT(C), must have fulfilled the academic and practical requirements as outlined in the CATA document entitled “Procedures for Certification”. Certified members have successfully completed a comprehensive theory exam and a subsequent oral/practical exam developed and administered by the certification board of the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association.
Where do they work?
An Athletic Therapist can be found working in a variety of settings. Probably the most recognizable area is when they are working in a field setting. If you have ever watched a sporting event on TV and saw a person running out onto the playing field to assist an injured player the likelihood that person is an Athletic Therapist is high. Other settings that you could find an AT are:
- Universities and Colleges: Athletic Therapists work with varsity athletes providing expertise on injury prevention, emergency and acute care, assessment and rehabilitation of injuries as well as developing conditioning programs. Many Athletic Therapists also teach in related subject matter at these schools.
- Private Health Care Clinics: A growing number of Athletic Therapists work in fee-for-service clinics, treating a variety of injuries and conditions. Treatment will include injury assessment and rehabilitation as well as conditioning programs for all active individuals.
- Industrial Athletes: Historically, Athletic Therapy has been confined to the sports setting. Sport medicine has been a desired medical approach to the industrial worker both in injury prevention and active injury treatment methods. Athletic Therapists can work in area of workplace safety, occupational ergonomics, disability management and active injury rehabilitation.
- Professional Sports Teams: Certified Athletic Therapists are currently employed by, professional teams in the NHL, CFL, NBA, MLB, NWHL, NLL as well as professional dance companies. These therapists are responsible for injury prevention, emergency and acute injury care, assessment and complete rehabilitation of injuries and development of conditioning programs.
- National Sport Organizations: Certified Athletic Therapists are an integral part of the ongoing care of national athletes. Athletic Therapists either work directly with the team or are selected to the medical teams for games such as the Olympics, Pan Am Games, Universiade, Commonwealth Games, Canada Games etc.
- Research Groups: It is becoming more and more common for Athletic Therapists to be conducting and/or involved with academic or scientific research. The demands of evidence-based medicine are increasing and research relating to the CATA Scope of Practice is on the rise. Many Athletic Therapists working at Universities or Colleges with a strong research background are involved in such research.
Scope of Practice
The Scope of Practice of a Certified Athletic Therapist includes the assessment, prevention, immediate care, and reconditioning of musculoskeletal injuries. Prevention includes musculoskeletal and postural evaluation, equipment selection, fitting and repair, warm-up, conditioning programs, prophylactic or supportive taping, and adapting to the activity environment and facilities.
The provision of on-field immediate care of athletic injuries by a Certified Athletic Therapist includes: injury assessment, basic emergency life support, recognition and management of acute traumatic neurological dysfunction, provision of first aid, preparation for entrance into appropriate health care delivery systems, or, where appropriate, utilization of techniques facilitating a safe return to participation.
A Certified Athletic Therapist assesses injuries and conditions, utilizes contemporary rehabilitative techniques, therapeutic modalities, soft tissue mobilization, physical reconditioning, and supportive strapping procedures to promote an environment conducive to optimal healing in preparing the individual for safe reintegration into an active lifestyle.
The Athletic Therapist, in co-operation with all performance enhancement personnel, and members of the health care delivery team, is an integral part of a total service to maximize the performance and welfare of the individual. Concomitant with the execution of this role, the Athletic Therapist nurtures an attitude of positive health.
The Certified Athletic Therapist must present annual documentation demonstrating continued professional development to maintain their status with the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association. Guidelines are presented in the CATA document entitled “Maintenance of Certification”.
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