Athletic Therapy is the prevention, immediate care, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries by an Athletic Therapist. It involves the assessment of physical function, the treatment of dysfunction caused by pain and/or injury in order to develop, maintain and maximize independence and prevent dysfunction. User groups of this service are varied and can include but are not limited to people with a musculoskeletal injury that may be active individuals, injured workers, motor vehicle accident injuries, recreational athletes, professional athletes and competitive amateur athletes.
Athletic Therapists (also knows as athletic trainers, sports therapists or biokineticists) currently employed in many sport medicine settings including:
Universities and Colleges
ATs work with varsity athletes providing expertise on injury prevention, emergency and acute care, assessment and rehabilitation of injuries as well as developing conditioning programs. Many Athletic Therapists also teach related subject matters at various academic institutions.
ATs are currently employed by professional teams in the NHL, CFL, NBA, MLB, NWHL, NLL as well as professional dance companies. These therapists are responsible for injury prevention, emergency and acute injury care, assessment and complete rehabilitation of injuries and development of conditioning programs.
ATs are an integral part of the ongoing care of national athletes. Athletic Therapists either work directly with the team or are selected to the medical teams for games such as; Olympics; Pan Am; Commonwealth; World Cup, etc.
Private Sports Medicine Clinics
A growing number of ATs own or work in fee-for-service clinics, treating a variety of injuries and conditions. Treatment will include injury assessment and rehabilitation as well as conditioning programs for all active individuals.
The average income depends on the jurisdiction and types of practice. It generally ranges from $41,000 to $78,000. Depending on jurisdictions these health practitioners charge $40 to $60 per treatment sessions or $75 to $140 per hour of treatment.
AT practitioners are highly skilled health care professionals, with similar scope of practice as physiotherapists that provide immediate treatment to musculoskeletal injuries. ATs employ a sports medicine model of rehabilitation to physical injuries incurred from sports, recreation, accidents, daily activities or occupation. Early exercise prescription is often given to aggressively heal soft tissue injuries and to maintain/increase mobility.
The treatments offered are always one on one and usually 30-60 minutes in length. Treatments consist of manual therapy, including soft tissue therapy & joint mobilization, core strengthening & therapeutic exercise prescription, supportive taping & bracing, postural correction, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, neuromuscular retraining, nutritional advice & supplement recommendation, and the use of traditional modalities (ultrasound, IFC, TENS, laser, NMES). Almost every modality available to physiotherapists is also used by these health practitioners.
Many extended health plans cover these treatments with a doctor's referral.
To become a certified athletic therapist, graduates of accrediited universities need to successfully pass the athletic therapy board exams administered by International Board of Certified Athletic Therapists (IBCAT). Upon successful completion of the board exams; graduates are permitted to use the titles: CAT, DIBCAT; which stand for Certified Athletic Therapists, Diplomate of the International Board of Certified Athletic Therapists.
With a CAT, DIBCAT title, athletic therapists are permitted to work as athletic therapists everywhere; including the USA (all states), Canada (all provinces), Australia (all provinces), New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, India, China, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Iran, & the Netherlands.