What is an Athletic Therapist
An Athletic Therapist is a health professional specializing in injury rehabilitation, movement correction and athletic performance enhancement. They assess injuries and movement dysfunctions, and provide rehabilitative correction in the form of manual therapy, exercise rehabilitation and therapeutic modalities.
Athletic therapists can treat a wide variety of injuries, and work with all populations. They are not limited to athletic injuries only, but instead have a wide range of abilities that may be applied to settings including industry and the general population. The focus is on maximizing all areas of health to enable individuals to continue an active lifestyle.
In order to practice as an Athletic Therapist, candidates must complete a series of requirements in order to retain the title of a Certified Athletic Therapist. These include the completion of a bachelor’s degree at an approved post-secondary institution, an internship of 1200 clinical and field practicum hours, and a valid First Responder certificate. The certification exam includes a written and practical exam evaluating all aspects of the scope of practice, including clinical care and evaluation, on-field management procedures and taping and support techniques.
For more information please visit the website of the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association.
Frequently Asked Questions
Very little in an orthopaedic setting. We both assess injuries, and can use the same things in terms of exercises and electrical modalities. Physio learns things related to hospitals that ATs do not, while ATs study more strength/conditioning type things, as well as emergency medicine.
You need to graduate from a specific AT program (there are 7 in Canada), as well as have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. You have to complete 1200 hours of practical training in addition to school. The exam is both practical and written, with clinic and field components.
No. We can treat all kinds of injuries and conditions; we just have a different perspective on how an injury should be managed and rehabilitated.
People usually wear shorts/tshirt, because they need to be comfortable and able to move around. I’ll usually start with hands on work, massage or graston and joint stuff. We may work on mobility or muscle activation work, possible balance/coordination drills and strength. Obviously depends on what he person needs. We’ll talk a fair bit about things to do at home, modification in activities or training. If needed, I might tape or provide support for the joint. I don’t usually use machines, unless it’s really needed (very rare for me to think so).
In an AT session clients are more active; I’ll get them to change positions when I’m working, we’ll do more stretching, strength stuff, movement tests and retests to make sure things have changed. Massage is passive, the client doesn’t do much. I’m able to get a better sense of how much people have improved with AT, and what needs to be worked on. I still use a lot of massage techniques in an AT session, there’s just more client involvement.
There are a number of insurance companies within Canada that provide insurance coverage for Athletic Therapy under extended health benefits. The specific coverage of athletic therapy is dependent on the particular benefits package, therefore please confirm with your insurer. The most recent list of insurance companies who cover Athletic Therapy in Alberta can be found at the website for the Alberta Athletic Therapists Association.
For those who do not have specific coverage under their insurance plan, the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association has created letters that may assist you in the process of gaining coverage from your insurance provider. Athletic Therapy services may also be considered as a medical tax deductible expense.