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  • Kevin Bryant

Is Athletic Therapy for Me?

A common question we get amongst new and current patients is what is athletic therapy? A relatively new and growing profession, athletic therapy is often compared to other rehab professions such as physiotherapy, massage therapy, kinesiology and chiropractics. While there is a lot of crossover, athletic therapy has its own distinctions.


The first thing that makes athletic therapy different from other professions is the on-field coverage that AT’s provide. If you’re ever watching a professional sports game and you see a player get hurt and team personnel come onto the field to attend to them, chances are these are athletic therapists (In the US, they are called athletic trainers). AT’s are there to assess the injury right when it happens and to make a decision as to whether it is safe for the athlete to continue playing or not. Many AT’s are also Emergency First Responders on top of being trained to initiate emergency medical treatments (e.g. CPR, rescue breathing, shock management, splinting) until paramedics arrive for hospital transport. AT’s who work directly with teams provide therapy/rehab treatments for their players, including return-to-play protocols and ensuring athletes are physically and mentally ready to return to games. Finally, many AT’s also have additional education in concussion assessment and management, and can help their athletes through this recovery.


In a clinical setting, such as here at ESMC, AT’s specialize in the assessment and rehab of musculoskeletal injuries, meaning injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. For many of the injuries you might think to see a physiotherapist, but an athletic therapist is more than capable themselves of assessing and treating. AT’s will employ a variety of soft tissue techniques (e.g. massage, stretching), modalities (e.g. heat, ice, ultrasound) and exercises to aid your road to recovery. Many professions assess and treat under the same principles- it’s the scopes of each profession and the tools they use that differ.


A common misconception is that athletic therapy is only for athletes, but the motto of our profession is that athletic therapy is for everyone. We all have our activities or hobbies that help us remain active that aren’t sports, but can still result in aches, pains and injuries that an athletic therapist can help with. Here at ESMC, if pain or injury is preventing you from doing any activity you love, then you’re an athletic in our eyes.


As a growing profession, more and more insurance companies are now including athletic therapy benefits for their members. Often times, AT insurance coverage may be pooled with other professions. Not sure if you have AT benefits? Check with your insurance provider to see if it is included; if not, inquire as to whether AT can be added.


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