Sports therapists are a special type of physical therapist who works specifically with athletes instead of a variety of different types of patients. Physical therapists work with patients to help reduce pain and improve injured areas. Sports therapists do this, too, but focus on sports-related injuries. Specific job duties of a sports therapist typically include:
Sports physical therapists have several specific aims when working directly with athletes, and several professional targets to ensure that the profession continues to develop. Above all, sports physical therapists want to help athletes of all shapes, sizes, and levels of proficiency maximize their potential and safely enjoy sport, exercise, and healthy physical activity.
When an injury or illness occurs during training or at a competition, sports therapists perform an “acute intervention” where he or she must rapidly recognize the symptoms and take action to prevent further damage and begin the healing process. Sports therapists tend to work independently or with other medical personnel. As an expert, the sports therapist will decide if the athlete can safely return to play. In addition, the sports therapist may decide that the athlete should see a specialist or be referred for further treatment or observation. To ensure his or her patient receives the proper care, the sports therapist will communicate with other health care professionals to ensure they are protected from further injury. Like doctors and other medical staff, sports therapists must ensure privacy and confidentiality for their patients.
Sports therapists perform many different job functions, many of which revolve around treating injuries. However, there is more to this career than just that. Sports therapists also play a role in enhancing athletic performance. These professionals supplement the actions of the athletic coach and trainer. Using their extensive therapeutic knowledge and skills, sports therapists can develop strategies to enhance an athlete’s performance capacity.
Sports therapists also often act as advisors, helping athletes of all ages and abilities to live more actively, safely. A sports therapist can offer knowledgeable advice on appropriate physical activities, as well as how to increase their activity for medical reasons, such as heart disease.
No matter which role a sports therapist serves in, he or she will always promote fair play and anti-doping practices. As medical professionals, sports therapists want to ensure that athletes are aware of regulations and procedures, and are performing safely. To ensure they always provide the most current and accurate advice, sports therapists must keep up-to-date with changes in the athletic medicine field. In addition, sports therapists can contribute to the development of their profession by participating in research into new techniques. Overall, a sports therapist works to ensure professionals and non-professional athletes perform properly and with less pain and injury.