What is a Sports Rehabilitation Therapist?

Today’s sports rehabilitation therapist provides a vital link between the athlete and the field in which they prefer to play but perhaps cannot due to illness or injury. What exactly does this professional do in this context, and how does someone become one? Read on for details on the career of today’s sports rehabilitation therapist.

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What is a Sports Rehabilitation Therapist?

Sports rehabilitation therapists, also referred to as physical therapists, are extremely important when it comes to sports rehabilitation and mental health for athletes across the world. They are highly educated and skilled when it comes to offering their physical therapy services and are often considered crucial when it comes to the careers of professional athletes.

A sports rehabilitation therapist understands the physical therapy and training program that may be needed to heal practically any sports related injury, as well as any common injuries. However, their knowledge of sports medicine doesn’t stop there. They also understand that mental health, athletic training, and athletic performance all work in sync for the healing process.

Athletes put a great deal of pressure on themselves when it comes to their performance and a sports rehabilitation therapist sees how this affects them. Considering and understanding emotional health is a top priority for any physical therapy treatment plan. Keep reading to learn more about the journey and career of a sports rehabilitation therapist…

General Job Description and Duties for Sports Rehabilitation Therapists

In nearly every sense, sports rehabilitation therapists, or SRTs for short, act in much the same capacity as physical and occupational therapists. This means that they work with injured clients to help them regain solid use of their injured body parts or systems. The main difference in the work of physical therapists and that of an SRT lies in the SRT’s specific utilization where it comes to sports injuries and helping athletes, in particular, to get back on the field after injury. A sports physical therapist, or SRT, has one specific goal in mind.

So, what does a typical day look like for this type of worker? A sports rehabilitation therapist typically treats a number of patients each day, with each patient’s treatment taking shape through a process of case management and physical therapy. Essentially, the patient comes in to see the SRT, the SRT assesses their current condition, works with them physically and accordingly, and then sets in place a plan for the continued handling of that patient and their injury at future visits. At the actual times of treatment, a wide variety of physical interactions are facilitated by the SRT that help the patient to regain stability, strength, range of motion, and more. This can include occupational therapy, exercise science, massive therapy, and many other therapeutic treatments that are incredible for injured athletes suffering sports related injuries that can range from strained muscles to broken bones.

Necessary Knowledge and Education for Sports Rehabilitation Therapists

As this line of work deals heavily in human physiology, the requirements for becoming an SRT also deal heavily in that line of academia. To become an SRT, most employers and states require the candidate to have more than a bachelor’s degree. Most candidates must present with a graduate degree as well as with some residency experience. There is variation in the degree accepted here, as a degree in physiology, kinesiology, or biology will each typically open this career door. Some states do, however, require additional certification, perhaps in sports rehabilitation, in order for one to legally work as an SRT. Offering emotional and sports therapy is an extremely rewarding career path but it does require dedication and commitment.

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Employment Statistics for Sports Rehabilitation Therapists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is often a great resource to utilize in becoming more familiar with a particular job outlook, and although the bureau doesn’t specifically list the role of the SRT, it does provide some helpful info via its coverage of the very similar roles of the physical therapist and the exercise physiologist. Per the BLS, physical therapists average a very healthy median pay rate of about $42.27 per hour while enjoying an industry-wide growth in demand of 22 percent. Likewise, the BLS cites exercise physiologists as earning a median pay of about $49,270 per year while seeing a 10 percent uptick in industry demand. Both of these positions are highly similar to that of the SRT, and with these positive numbers, SRTs can assume similar figures.

Are You Interested in Becoming a Sports Rehabilitation Therapist?

For anyone looking for a career involving helping other people to heal and overcome injury and adversity alike, the job of the SRT offers just that opportunity. This is a medical profession, so one can expect some upper-level schooling in order to eventually land this job. For more information on the role of today’s sports rehabilitation therapist and the qualifications asked of them in your specific state, it is recommended that you contact your state’s medical board. The National Athletic Trainers association is also an excellent resource and can be found here.

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