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What is Sport Therapy?

* Source: WFATT website. The professional title (term) may include equivalent terms including Athletic Therapist, Athletic Trainer, Sports Therapist, Sport Rehabilitator, Athletic and Rehabilitation Therapist. 

Athletic Therapists (ATs) are a specialty health care profession within sport and exercise medicine (SEM). The term “Athletic Therapist” is interchangeable with “Sport Therapist”.

Ontario Athletic Therapists are part of an international profession practising within different jurisdictions in the USA, England, Ireland, Scotland, Israel and other countries under professional titles and designations that include Athletic Therapist, Sport Therapist, Sport Rehabilitation Therapist and Athletic Trainer.*  


The term “sport therapy” does not apply to treatment only to professional and elite amateur athletes.  In fact, and in practice, sports therapy is an integrated discipline provided by different professional therapists. Any client, regardless of age or ability, can benefit from the unique approach of Athletic Therapists to physical performance and both prevention and recovery of injury.


Athletic Therapists are proud of their training and competencies within the discipline of sport and exercise medicine.

Athletic Therapy Ontario® recently completed an AT Practice Analysis of the core competencies and skills of entry-level practitioners against the pillars and best practices of SEM. ATs are able to assess, treat, and implement individualized programs for clients that include concussion assessment and management, point of injury care and field play in addition to clinical practice settings.  The approach is not “one-size-fits-all”, nor is it passive.  Clients will be given education on their condition and be actively engaged in their treatment and program maintenance.

Sport Therapy is an aspect of healthcare that is specifically concerned with the prevention of injury and the rehabilitation of the client back to optimal levels of functional, occupational and sport-specific fitness, regardless of age and ability.  Sport Therapy applies the principles of sport and exercise science incorporating physiological and pathological processes to prepare the participant for training, competition and where applicable, some occupations.  Ontario Athletic Therapists treat a number of “occupation or industrial athletes” who must meet standards of fitness for their jobs.


What is Sport Medicine?

In the USA, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) has a remarkable research and education foundation and capacity to advance the AT profession.  The NATA has well documented the milestones over the past 40 years achieved within the orthopedic subspecialty of ‘Sports Medicine’.  Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM)  has pioneered many advances in technology and medical protocols permitting advances in treatment for all patients, not just the elite athlete. The first arthroscope was invented in the early 1900s as a diagnostic tool for orthopedic surgeons.


During the 1960s arthroscopy was being refined by orthopedists who worked with athletic teams as a means to prevent career-ending injuries. Arthroscopic procedures are one of the most commonly performed procedures today on people of all ages, body types, and activity levels. While there are many treatment techniques and technological breakthroughs in medicine that came as a direct result of athletic health care, one component has remained, the quality of care that results from the sport medicine approach.


From the 1950s through the 1970s, the sport medicine model of care only encompassed the treatment of minor injuries on the sidelines and in locker rooms. Now, in the second decade of the 21st Century, the benefits and the outcomes from evidence-based athletic care and sport therapy practices demonstrate clearly the value of this specialty model of care.

Ontario’s Athletic Therapists are well-trained allied healthcare professionals with a well-defined scope of practice focused on the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries and concussions.

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