Athletic Therapy

About Athletic Therapy

Athletic therapy is about rapid rehabilitation of bone, muscle and joint (“musculoskeletal”) conditions. 

Athletic therapy is best known for treating professional and elite athletes, but Certified Athletic Therapists provide care for clients of all age ranges and ability levels.  They treat sports injuries and non-sport related conditions, such as osteoarthritis. 

Trained as first responders with extensive experience working in the sports field, Athletic Therapists are uniquely positioned to respond to emergencies at sporting events, such as concussions, fractures and spinal injuries. 

At River East Physiotherapy, our Certified Athletic Therapist provides in-clinic care and is available for partnerships with sports teams, individual athletes, and organizations who promote active lifestyles.

What's the Difference Between Athletic Therapy and Physiotherapy? 

Physiotherapy and Athletic Therapy are two separate professions, with very similar training and certification for treating bone, joint and muscle (“musculoskeletal”) conditions. 

At River East Physiotherapy & Sports Fitness Clinics, our therapists work as a team to ensure clients receive the most appropriate care for their condition.  Choosing which profession is right for you usually depends on your injury or condition and your insurance coverage

Similarities between Physiotherapy and Athletic Therapy

Licensed physiotherapists and Certified Athletic Therapists both:

  • Hold university degrees.
  • Have university-level training to assess and treat musculoskeletal conditions. These conditions and injuries can be either persistent/chronic, or acute. 
  • Focus on injury prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation.
  • Are held to a high level of professional responsibility by their professional college and/or association.
  • Are required to continue their education throughout their career.

Here are some examples of conditions treatable by both physiotherapists and athletic therapists:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Sciatica (nerve pain in your leg that originates in your back)
  • Disc Herniations
  • Low Back Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (arm & neck)
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Post-Operatives
  • Knee/Hip/Shoulder Replacements
  • ACL reconstructions (knee)
  • Achilles rupture (ankle)
  • Meniscal/Labral Tears (knee)
  • Whiplash
  • Sprains (any joint)
  • Strains (any joint)
  • Tendinitis (any joint)
  • Concussions

Differences between Physiotherapy and Athletic Therapy

Physiotherapists have a broader knowledge base, scope of practice, and medical background.   In addition to musculoskeletal conditions, physiotherapists’ training focuses on neurology, pelvic health, the vestibular system, cardiorespiratory conditions, cancer, and burns.

Because of their broader scope of practice, physiotherapists are well-positioned to care for clients with complex medical histories.

Compared to physiotherapists, athletic therapists have more training working in the field with sports teams and individual athletes.  They are also trained as first responders. Athletic therapists can therefore work with a client for the whole lifecycle of their injury, from time of injury in the field, to in-clinic rehabilitation, to full recovery. 

Athletic therapists have more advanced training in specialized taping and bracing (although many physiotherapists have also pursued this skillset in their post-graduate training).

At River East Physiotherapy, acupuncture and dry needling is performed exclusively by physiotherapists (although Certified Athletic Therapists are eligible to pursue certification in these areas).

Examples of conditions and clients best suited to physiotherapy:

  • Neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Bell's Palsy)
  • Vestibular conditions
  • Cardio-respiratory conditions
  • Cancer rehabilitation
  • Clients with multiple conditions or complex medical histories.

Examples of clients best suited to athletic therapy:

  • Athletes of all ages who would benefit from a rehabilitation professional to support them in the field, the gym, and/or the clinic.
  • Clients requiring complex taping and bracing to recover from an injury.

Still not sure which is right for you?  Call us at 204-982-9191 to set up a free, 15-minute phone consultation with a physiotherapist or an athletic therapist.  

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