A sports physical therapist (PT) is a specialized version of physical therapist. It’s similar to a standard PT in that they focus on the rehabilitation, treatment, prevention, and evaluation of patients. However with a sports PT, patients are normally physically athletic individuals. A sports PT may also concentrate more on performance enhancement than a standard therapist.
Sports PT Focus
A sports PT frequently focuses on chronic injuries. They are typically neuromuscular skeletal in nature. A PT will usually make the final assessment when a person is ready to return to standard activity. Here is a video going through how a PT will deal with sports injury rehab:
Since most of the patients of a sports physical therapists are actively participating in sports, they need to continue with their activities with minimal interruption. A sports PT will typically provide screening, cardiovascular fitness, equipment recommendations, and different programs designed to return a person to their activity in a timely manner.
This type of therapist will often work with a team of doctors to determine and implement a program to get the patient back to his or her previous athletic ability.
Case Study: Sonia Considers Her Therapy Career
A few weeks after making the decision to go back to school, Sonia had lunch with Jill again. Sonia had done enough research that she had a lot of questions about becoming a therapist.
She knew she would need a lot more answers, so she offered to buy Jill lunch in exchange for more information. Sonia had been debating on whether to study sports physical therapy. She was intrigued with the idea of working with athletes.
Helping All Age Ranges Not Just Athletes
Jill said she had considered the same thing, but ultimately made the decision to stay with general physical therapy because she wanted to help young children as well as the elderly not just professional sports teams. After thinking about it, Sonia made the same decision. There were simply too many people that needed her help, not just athletes.
Working On Athletic Performance Enhancement
One of the trademarks of a sports physical therapist is the ability to work on performance enhancement. These therapists will measure different strengths and weaknesses of an athlete at the beginning of an activity and take notes of various deficiencies in strength, endurance, flexibility, and aerobic ability. After that, a training regimen can be created with follow-up by the therapist along the way to help monitor their progress on rehabilitation.
Sports physical therapy is a specialization of standard PT so the same education requirements apply. You will need a doctorate in physical therapy along with passing the national physical therapy exam. After that you will need to get a license to practice in the state of your choice.
What Salary To Expect
The amount of money that the sports physical therapist can make will vary depending upon the type of sports and teams with which they are associated. The therapist who works with a professional sports team or at a major university can make a lot more money. The average pro sports physical therapist salary in the US is around $70,000.
Sports physical therapists can work in a variety of different areas including sports teams, colleges, and even private schools. Some hospitals also have sports therapists working closely with doctors. Of course a sports therapist can also have their own practice. If you enjoy sports and would like to work with athletes on a regular basis to help them improve their performance and stay healthy, this may be a great career for you.