Physical therapy is becoming a very essential part of health maintenance and improvements especially in the field of sport. Be it in a professional athletic team, amateur, or in school, sports physical therapists are becoming very important not only to rehabilitate athletes with injuries but also to improve their physical attributes through natural treatments and care. Through physical therapy, players and non-professional athletes also get to avoid injuries especially in injury-prone areas.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists in the country earn as much as $76,400 every year. Sports therapists can earn higher than this amount especially those that are working for a big athletic company or institution. Employment for future physical therapists is also expected to boost significantly in the coming years – about 39% due to the increasing need for physical therapy in various fields like elderly care and home care facilities, and in sports. This makes sports physical therapy a very good career option for future aspiring health care professionals.
What Do Sports Physical Therapists Do?
The main duty of a sports physical therapist is to rehabilitate and improve the condition of the athlete through a specific rehabilitation plan or by working with other healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses, and chiropractors. Physical therapists specializing in sports medicine provide regular physical therapy care for healthy athletes in order to protect areas that are prone to injuries based on the kind of sport they are playing and their body condition. Some of the most common body parts they give focus to are the tendons, ankles, calves, elbows, and fingers.
For athletes with injuries or health condition, they usually inform the team physician and together they create a treatment plant for the athlete. Athletes who are injured require a more specific treatment plan because they have a more delicate condition than normal or regular patients do. They provide immediate pain relief for patients or athletes suffering from severe pain due to injury. Sports therapists usually perform basic and mild techniques to relieve pain like hot and cold compresses especially for inflammation and swelling. They also provide deep massages to relieve pain and promote faster healing.
If they require invasive procedure, the treatment must be done accurately in order to avoid further problems or unwanted results that may affect the performance and physical attributes of the athlete. Sports therapists also keep track of patient’s condition by monitoring their medical tests and records like X-rays, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and CT scans. Some sports physical therapists may also suggest a specific exercise or workout routine for the athletes to reduce the risk of injuries or to hasten the healing process if the athlete recently acquired an injury.
How Do You Become A Sports Physical Therapist?
To become a physical therapist, you need to finish college and accomplish a degree in physical therapy in order to get admission for a doctorate or master’s degree in physical therapy. In most countries especially in the US, a physical therapy graduate can qualify for the licensure and registration by completing a graduate program in physical therapy. To qualify for the graduate programs, physical therapy bachelor’s degree holder must accomplish the specific requirements needed for the program especially the courses like physiology, anatomy, biology, biomechanics, and chemistry.
Most physical therapy schools in the US offer a doctorate degree in physical therapy, which requires 3 to 4 years of study. There are also some schools offering a master’s degree, which may take 2 to 3 years of study to complete. After graduation, physical therapy graduates must first complete a residency program required by the state.
Most residency programs for physical therapists take 9 months to 3 years for completion. This residency program is where physical therapy graduates get to obtain additional training and specialization in a specific physical therapy specialty like sports medicine in order to become certified sports physical therapists. After the residency program, physical therapists must then prepare for some state-required sports-specialty examination depending on the state they want to get employed or a national exam directed by ABPTS or the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.
Distance Learning On Physical Therapy And Sports Medicine
As the demand for physical therapy education increases over the years, more and more schools are now offering online physical therapy education programs. Aside from the bachelor’s degree, there are also online graduate programs like the MSS or the Master of Sports Science degree. This type of online degree course requires about 33 to 42 hours of study or online coursework. Most of the online programs are done online through online video discussions and email. However, residency programs after graduation must still be done on-campus or through the supervision of licensed PT.
In order to qualify for an on-campus residency program, the online physical therapy degree program must be fully accredited by the agency or board that regulates and accredits online schools and programs in physical therapy education. There are now a lot of schools offering different kinds of online courses and degree programs in physical therapy. However, not all are accredited which may cause program later on when applying for residency and licensure. To ensure that you are taking the right education program from the right online school, inquire from the main organization or agency that administers the National Physical Therapy Examination or the NPTE, which is the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.
Why Pursue A Career In Sport Physical Therapy
Pursuing a career in physical therapy is one of the main options by students today because of the many career opportunities open for physical therapy graduates. Aside from the great salaries and benefits, physical therapy graduates also get to choose from many specializations in physical therapy like sports. According to some reports, sports or athletic physical therapists earn very high income especially those that are working for very popular and large athletic companies or organizations. Compared to the average income earned by regular physical therapists, which ranges from $76,000 to $80,000, some sports or athletic physical therapists can earn as much as $100,000 to $230,000 every year.