What is an Athletic Therapist?

Thursday, November 05, 2015 4:03 PM | OATA Admin (Administrator)

Athletic Therapists, as defined by the Ontario Athletic Therapist Association, are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, assessment and care of musculoskeletal disorders, especially as they relate to athletics and the pursuit of physical activity (OATA, 2009).

If you watch professional sports on television, you’ve seen Athletic Therapists jump over the boards, or on to the field, to respond to an emergency or injury. You have likely seen someone on the sidelines of a local football or rugby tournament with a first aid fanny pack slung over their shoulder or around their waist. And if you have been in a busy sports medicine clinic, they are there too!

Athletic Therapists (ATs) are usually the first to respond to an injury or emergency typically in a sports setting. All levels of active people and teams use ATs for their knowledge of acute injuries. With advanced first responder skills, an AT will confront the emergency and can assess for the injury onsite. This leads to a faster diagnosis and treatment time. All athletes and active people want “rapid return to work and play” (OATA). Once the diagnosis is made, the AT will treat and manage the injury. What separates ATs from other health care professionals is the keen awareness of acute injury management, biomechanics, strength and conditioning and manual therapy. This, along with advanced first aid, makes an Athletic Therapist a great choice for athletes of all levels.

The sporting world is dealing with a new awareness of concussions. Athletic Therapists are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries (concussions). Managing these injuries can take a coordinated effort among health care professionals and an Athletic Therapist can be your quarterback. Athletic Therapists use advanced assessments, for instance, cranial nerve testing and the SCAT test, to determine if a concussion may have been sustained. Manual therapy and working alongside sports medicine physicians are also in the scope of athletic therapy.

All Certified Athletic Therapists write a nationally-standardized, written exam and must successfully complete four components of practical testing. Candidates are tested on assessment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as medical emergencies and non-emergencies in the field. Once the national exams are passed, certified therapists must continually update their sports medicine education and first responder certifications. So, go ahead, give athletic therapy a try!

For more information about Athletic Therapy, read the OATA's White Paper HERE

To find an Athletic Therapist near you, use our AT Search Feature HERE

by:Alana GulkaCAT(C), BAHSc-AT, BSc
Certified Athletic Therapist
First Responder



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