Athletic Therapy is a profession commonly utilized by sporting teams and events for their unique on-field emergency care. However, their scope of practice does not stop there; a Certified Athletic Therapist has the ability to work both on and off the field to meet all needs of the active population. They use various assessment, prevention, intervention and practical management skills to ensure the client’s full recovery to their active lifestyle.
Certified Athletic Therapists must be certified through the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) before they are able to practice. This is accomplished by completion of a certification course at one of the many accredited institutions in Canada, followed by the successful completion of the Canadian Athletic Therapists’ certification exam. The therapist may then proceed to maintain their Medical Sport First Responder’s designation while they complete mandatory continuing education courses throughout their career. Through these educational institutions a Certified Athletic Therapist will be trained in the following areas; clinical and on-field orthopedic assessment, pre-surgical & post-surgical assessment and treatment, manual therapy, modalities, exercise prescription, sporting equipment fitting and emergency removal, emergency injury management, tape and supporting techniques, functional testing, comprehensive care, injury prevention and concussion management.
By attending an assessment with a Certified Athletic Therapist your injury will be thoroughly assessed using history, observation, manual testing and palpation techniques necessary to gain insight into your injured area and lifestyle. Using this information the therapist will then treat accordingly to decrease pain, swelling, changes of sensation, increase mobility and help ensure that re-injury is less likely to occur. At home you will receive a follow-up exercise program that will allow you to complete your rehabilitation without having to come to the clinic. These exercises and stretches are personalized to you and your body type in order to rehabilitate the area as well as ensure that re-injury is less likely to occur. The goal of the therapist is to get you back to your active lifestyle as soon as possible and with as much ease as possible. You are equipped with the means necessary to ensure if re-injury starts to occur, you have techniques to help stop it. However, if you do re-injure, your therapist is there to help.
If you choose to have a Certified Athletic Therapist at your sporting event they will be with you pre-game, during, post-game and for follow up appointments to ensure all your sporting needs are met. Pre-game duties for the therapist include but are not limited to, manual releases, compacted injury treatment, taping or bracing and warm up/mobility programming. During the event your Certified Athletic Therapist is there for, injury response, treatment and return to play decision-making, as well as, equipment fitting and repair. Post-game, the therapist will follow up with the athletes to ensure no other injuries have been missed and any on-going injuries are properly treated after the event. Once the event has completely finished and all injuries have been treated on-site to the best of the therapist’s abilities their services do not stop there, your therapist will follow-up with you or your athletes to provide clinical treatments as well as exercise programming as needed.
One common injury that is often overlooked by athletes is a concussion. Certified Athletic Therapists have unique training with concussions allowing them to best return you, or your athlete to their active lifestyle safely. The therapists will do baseline concussion SCAT2 testing as well as may perform online neuro-cognitive testing to gain further information essential to potential future injuries. These tests, are then used in the future if you or your loved one sustains a concussion anywhere in their active life. If a concussion is sustained the tests are repeated in the same manner as the baseline test to track the rehabilitation of the athlete’s concussion. Once the therapist has deemed it safe for the athlete to return to play, they will gradually re-introduce to activity using functional and sport-specific testing to ensuring re-injury does not occur.
Choosing treatment by an Athletic Therapist is one of many great therapeutic resources. Your therapist may also refer you to seek the care of other therapeutic providers when necessary to ensure all your needs are met. These include but are not limited to the practices performed by; Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Naturopaths, Massage Therapists, Personal Trainers, and Doctors.