What is a Sport Physiotherapist?
A ‘Sport Physiotherapist’ is a physiotherapist who has completed the Diploma in Sport Physiotherapy through Sport Physiotherapy Canada (a Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association). The Diploma holder has experience in the care of athletes of all levels, be it the high performance national or provincial level athlete, or the everyday active Canadian. The education system of SPC allows the physiotherapist to gain experience and education through courses in areas such as athletic taping, protective equipment, emergency care, concussion management and exercise prescription. Physiotherapists gain valuable field experience towards their Diploma by working closely with experienced therapists in a mentorship program.
In Canada, there are over 350 physiotherapists who have achieved the Certificate level in Sport Physiotherapy, and over 250 physiotherapists who have achieved the Diploma in Sport Physiotherapy. The expertise gained in dealing with sports injuries allows these Physiotherapists to guide the athlete in a safe and efficient manner back to full activity. The training done by these physiotherapists involves 1600 hours in on-field care in a variety of sports. The examination process overseen by Sport Physiotherapy Canada ensures these physiotherapists have achieved a high standard of care and have expertise in the treatment of sports injuries.
A Sport Physiotherapist has a background in orthopaedics and adds the skills learned during the certificate and diploma training to his/her treatment tools. They understand the biomechanics of sport and the underlying causes of injuries. This allows them to better understand injuries and safely get athletes back to play.
Sport physiotherapy can help athletes with:
- Sport and activity-related aches and pains, sprains and strains
- Overuse injuries
- Concussion prevention, assessment and recovery
- Balance, range of motion, strength, stability, mobility, speed, power and agility required to return to sport
- Education regarding injury risk management and prevention
- Performing at your absolute best (maintenance and performance improvement)
- Returning to activity after a surgery (e.g. ACL repair or rotator cuff surgery)
To summarize, the skills of a Sport Physiotherapist include athletic taping, functional return to sport training, exercise physiology, sport massage, and concussion evaluation and management. They have the skills and ability to work with sport organizations to help establish a comprehensive medical support system for an organization, whether it is at the grassroots level or the high performance level. Many of the Diploma holders in Sport Physiotherapy have worked with Canada’s top athletes at all levels of sport.
It is important to note that the word ‘trainer’ is used in reference to someone working with a team or sport who provides a variety of support services to the team. The trainer may be a Sport Physiotherapy Canada Certificate or Diploma holder or a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or athletic therapist. Some trainers may have no formal medical training other than a first aid certificate and knowledge of the sport. It is important to know the qualifications of potential medical staff prior to engaging their services. Physiotherapists are licensed through provincial colleges and SPC qualified physiotherapists can be found through its website.
If you have any questions about sport physiotherapy services at Leaps and Bounds: Performance Rehabilitation in Oakville, ON, feel free to give us a call and speak to our Sport Physiotherapist, Pat Stanziano.