Sports Rehabilitation is important to today’s athlete. The physical-based demands of sports can be destructive to the muscular system, the skeletal system, and the body’s neural system. Most athletes are trained to play through the pain. This is made possible by the creation of adaptations. Unfortunately, these adaptations have the potential to result in serious injury.

In order to perform optimally, athletes must have a neuromuscular and a musculoskeletal system that is functioning without any type of limitations. This is where physical therapists come into play. By electing to choose sports rehabilitation as a specialty, you are not only assisting athletes in their recovery, you are helping them to create a body that is performing optimally at all times. Continue reading to learn about this highly rewarding career path.

Football Sports Rehabilitation

What is Sports Rehabilitation Therapy?

Sports rehabilitation therapy is a specialty that utilizes a scientific-based approach to directly treating athletes. It is designed to treat those that are injured and to identify deficits of both the neuromuscular system and the musculoskeletal system.

The physical therapist that is involved in this specialty perform evaluations, are highly trained and knowledgeable in manual therapy skills, and have the unique expertise to establish an exercise program that will strengthen the body, improve the fitness level of the athlete, and optimize performance.

An evaluation is performed that involves the muscles of the body, the joints, the neuromuscular aspect of the body, the cardiovascular system, and the metabolic-based systems in order to appropriately prescribe a rehabilitative exercise program for the athlete patient.

Why Was Sports Rehabilitation Certification Created?

The sports rehabilitation certification was created as a specialty in the physical therapy field in order to provide recognition to those professionals that have a highly advanced level of clinical-based knowledge in the area of sports medicine. In addition to this, it recognizes those that have a specific skill set and a high level of application and practice in the confines of the sports medicine niche.

By completing a standardized level of training and excelling in both examination and application processes, a physical therapist may obtain a certificate to establish them as professionals in sports rehabilitation.

What Fundamental Knowledge is Required for the Sports Rehabilitation Specialty?

As a physical therapist that is seeking to enter into the sports rehabilitation specialty, you should be aware that there is quite a bit – in terms of fundamental knowledge – that will be required. The following outlines the basics:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • The Physiology of Various Exercises
  • The Physiological Demands Associated with Sporting Activities
  • Body Systems
  • The Science of Movement
  • Pathology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Medical Intervention
  • Surgical Intervention
  • Health
  • General Wellness
  • The Parameters Associated with Fitness
  • Critical Inquiry
  • Ethical Conduct
  • Legal Compliance
  • Administration Principles
  • Management Principles

What are the Practice Expectation Competency Areas of Sports Rehabilitation?

When you decide to enter into sports rehabilitation physical therapy services, there are various practice expectation competency areas associated with the profession. These include the following:

  1. You will need to examine the patient, evaluate their overall needs, and conclude with a solid diagnosis.
  2. It is important that you know and understand the prognosis, the steps that are required for intervention, and the outcomes that will be experienced by the patient once they complete the exercises that you have prescribed as part of your treatment.
  3. You must know how to successfully manage the acute illness and/or injury that has been experienced by the athlete that you are treating.
  4. If there are medical considerations and/or surgical considerations, you must work closely with other healthcare professionals to ensure that the patient receives the treatments that they need and that they are doing prescribed therapy sessions that correspond with the medical treatments that are being received.
  5. You will need to know the steps that are required to prevent future injuries and/or illnesses and you will be required to guide your patients on these steps in such a way that they understand and are able to successfully follow through.
  6. You will need to be familiar with the techniques that will aid in optimizing and/or enhancing the overall sports-based performance of the patient that you are working with in the rehabilitation process. In this, it is ideal that you know how certain types of factors – such as nutrition – have on the performance of an individual.
  7. You will need to educate your patient on hydration strategies, electrolyte replenishment, nutrition, weight gain/loss, the risks associated with performance enhancement products, banned substances in the sports niche, and similar topics so that they are well aware of that which will help the body regain strength and rehabilitate in a proper manner.
Sports Rehabilitation compression socks

Your Role and Responsibilities

In addition to that which has been previously mentioned, there are several other roles and responsibilities in which you will be responsible. These include maintaining your knowledge on the latest developments in sports medicine, applying principles that are backed by evidence in the scope of the care that you provide, and continuing your education in sports rehabilitation physical therapy and related services.

You must always ensure that you act in direct accordance with all of the ethical and the legal-based standards that surround your field.

If you must dispense any type of medication, it is vital that you know the administrative and the legal-based requirements to engage in this activity.

You must also adhere to all local, state, and federal laws governing your position.


Network with Others

Sports rehabilitation as a specialty in physical therapy is a highly rewarding profession which will help you render high levels of success to the athletes that you work with. In order to maximize your opportunities for success and to improve the outcomes of your patients, you should network with like-minded individuals within your field.

One of the most productive means of doing this is to join us here at the Colorado Physical Therapy Network. Not only will you learn about new treatments, you will be connected to numerous opportunities for both your career and your patients. Contact us today to learn more!

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