Physiotherapists and athletic therapists are both medical professionals who treat physical injuries. The primary goal of both physiotherapists and athletic therapists is to help clients return to preinjury levels of physical activity. Physiotherapists have a broader education and scope of practice, and work with the general population. Athletic therapists work with athletes and specialize in treating musculoskeletal conditions and sports-related injuries.
Physiotherapists treat patients with a variety of physical injuries, whether related to sports, accidents or surgery. Physiotherapists work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, nursing homes or health and wellness centers. Physiotherapists help patients recover range-of-motion, strength, balance and control. Physiotherapists help patients get back to their normal daily activities after an injury.
Athletic therapists prevent, assess and treat sports-related injuries. Athletic therapists work for athletic teams or sports medicine clinics. Athletic therapists are responsible for both the immediate care and the rehabilitation of injured athletes. Athletic therapists prevent injuries through warm-up routines, sports equipment evaluation and supportive taping. Athletic therapists provide first aid at the scene of an athletic injury. Athletic therapists also oversee reconditioning programs.
Physiotherapists and athletic therapists utilize similar therapeutic techniques including ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, laser therapy and rehabilitative stretches and exercises. Both must hold a university level degree in order to practice.
Differences in Practice
Physiotherapists work with the general population. They may treat athletes but they also treat a wide variety of clients such as stroke patients, car accident patients and patients injured on the job. Athletic therapists work with athletes and treat sports-related conditions. They use functional, sport-specific exercises to recondition patients.
Differences in Education
Physiotherapists study a broad range of topics in college and learn how to treat patients with orthopedic injuries as well as patients with neurological conditions, cardiorespiratory conditions or severe burns. Many choose to specialize in one or more knowledge areas after earning a physiotherapy degree. Athletic therapists study sports medicine in college. Athletic therapists take classes in sports psychology, sports ethics and team dynamics to prepare for working closely with athletic teams.
- Photo Credit sports medicine image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com
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