The National Football League (NFL) is a global leader in professional football, with nearly 200 million fans worldwide. As the preeminent sports league in North America, it consists of 32 member clubs plus four regional conferences, three in the United States and one abroad, representing 31 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Each club is independently owned and operated. The NFL offers regular seasons consisting of 16 games per team; six weeks off during the summer months; playoffs followed by the Super Bowl, the annual championship game; and the Pro Bowl, featuring current players competing against Hall of Famers. For more information, log on to www.nfl.com/about/index.htm.
+1 202 543-5511
A sports physical therapist is a specialized health professional who works closely with athletes, coaches and trainers to treat injuries sustained during sporting events. They evaluate the severity of an injury and provide treatments to help an athlete heal faster and safer.
The American Physical Therapy Association defines a sports physical therapist as someone who holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or exercise science, plus either a master’s degree or doctoral degree in physical therapy, and must pass national certification exams administered by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Sports physical therapists are often hired by teams to monitor players’ progress throughout training camp and games. They assess how well each player recovers from muscle strains and sprains, and whether he or she needs additional rehabilitation sessions. Sports physical therapists also advise athletes about proper nutrition and hydration, and teach them proper stretching techniques to prevent future injuries.
Physical therapist vs. sports physical therapist
A physical therapist (PT) and a sports physical therapist (SPT) are similar in many ways, but there are some differences. Both PTs and SPTs provide comprehensive care to patients following injuries. They perform medical assessments, help with rehabilitation, and prescribe medications and treatments. However, PTs focus primarily on musculoskeletal conditions while SPTs specialize in orthopedics and sport medicine.
The main distinction between the two professions is the amount of postgraduate education required to become licensed. In addition, SPTs must pass exams related to anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and emergency medicine to obtain their license. These tests include written, practical, and clinical examinations.
Salary for sports physical therapists
The national average salary for a physical therapy assistant is $46,904 annually, according to PayScale.com. This includes workers employed full time and part time, including those working at hospitals, clinics, medical centers and schools. Most employers report starting pay at around $30,000, though some start as low as $20,000. In addition to wages, benefits include health insurance coverage, paid vacation days and sick leave.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in physical therapy will increase by 12% from 2018 to 2028. Demand is expected to grow faster than supply, especially in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.
Job outlook for sports physical therapists
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the number of jobs in the general category of Physical Therapy is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations over the next decade. In addition, the projected increase in the number of jobs in Physical Therapy is greater than the nation’s overall job growth. This indicates that there are more people looking for work in the field of Physical Therapy than there are available positions.
With such a high predicted job creation rate, sports physical therapy careers offer many options for those interested in pursuing a career in this growing industry. Sports physical therapy is a great option for individuals who enjoy working with athletes and want to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Skills for a sports physical therapist
In order to provide excellent patient care, a sports physical therapist needs medical knowledge as well as interpersonal skills. In order to succeed at their work, sports physical therapists utilize the following skills:
Performing diagnostic screenings and choosing a treatment plan require strong analytical skills from sports physical therapists because they evaluate the condition of patients to determine the best course of rehabilitation.
When a patient undergoes rehabilitation therapies and exercises, medical professionals show empathy by showing concern and understanding. When a patient shows frustration or discouragement through verbal or non-verbal signs, sports physical therapists are able to encourage them.
Anatomy and physiology training: Sports physical therapists perform therapeutic treatments for patients who have sustained athletic-related injuries based on their extensive knowledge of the human body.
An emergency medical training course is essential for sports physical therapists should they suddenly experience life-threatening symptoms while treating a patient.
Working with clients for long hours requires physical strength and stamina as physical therapy practitioners often administer rehabilitation exercises, massage therapy, and sports training to their patients.
Therapists work with patients to help them achieve the same level of athletic ability and skill as athletes. For professional athletes to get into shape for a new season, encouragement and specific drills may be required
How to become a sports physical therapist
The process of becoming a certified athletic trainer or a licensed professional physical therapist starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or kinesiology. After receiving a bachelor’s, students must complete a master’s program before applying for licensing exams. If successful, they will receive certification from the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
1. Complete your undergraduate degree
Physical therapists are trained to help people recover from injuries and illnesses. They work closely with doctors and nurses to provide rehabilitative care. In fact, it takes about eight years of education to become a licensed physical therapist. Most physical therapy schools offer both graduate and undergraduate degrees. Students interested in pursuing a physical therapy program must complete four years of prerequisites including general courses like English, mathematics, chemistry and physics. Prerequisite classes include anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, pharmacology, nutrition, psychology and sociology. For those looking to enter into a master’s degree program, students typically take additional courses in clinical applications, research methodology and professional ethics. Graduates go on to pursue board certification exams.
2. Earn your graduate degree in physical therapy
Physical therapists are trained professionals who diagnose and treat people with injuries and illnesses related to musculoskeletal systems including muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels. They work closely with doctors and medical specialists to help patients recover from injury or illness. Graduates of physical therapy programs receive training in diagnosing and treating conditions such as arthritis, bone fractures, sports injuries, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, neurological disorders, and spinal cord injuries.
In addition to learning how to take care of patients, physical therapy students learn basic anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, nutrition, exercise science, health promotion, human development, psychology, pharmacology, pain management and rehabilitation techniques. Students must complete a rigorous curriculum consisting of coursework, internships and supervised practical.
3. Obtain a license as a physical therapist
Upon graduating from a Doctor of Physical Therapies (DPT) program, you can take a national licensure examination in the state where you want to work. You must pass both written and clinical portions of the test to become eligible to sit for the exam. Once you pass the exam, you are considered licensed in the state, though it takes about four months to process the paperwork needed to start practicing.
After passing the National Physical Therapy Examination, you can begin working in a hospital or clinic as a registered physical therapist. This allows you to gain experience in different settings while training under the supervision of a professional PT.
4. Gain experience in sports medicine
The next step to begin a successful career as a sports physical therapy professional is to gain experience working in the field of sports medicine. Sports therapists are responsible for diagnosing and treating athletes who suffer injuries while participating in sporting events. They often perform manual therapies such as joint mobilization, stretching exercises, soft tissue massage, therapeutic exercise programs, and ice packs. In addition, they educate players about proper form and technique and provide injury prevention advice.
You’ll need to earn at least 2,000 hours of experience caring for patients in sports therapy facilities or complete a recognized residency training program in a similar medical setting. Look for resources and career guidance through your doctorate in physical therapy program.
5. Get certified in emergency medical care and CPR
To become eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam for Sports Physical Therapists (NCE), you must complete certain coursework. This includes completing a basic life support class, such as CPR, and taking continuing education classes.
You can earn a CPR certification via either the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. Both organizations offer online programs to help prepare you for the exam.
The American Red Cross offers free online courses that teach you how to administer CPR and use an automated external defibrillator. These are both required courses for NCE candidates.
For more information about becoming a certified sports physical therapist, check out the American Academy of Family Physicians’ website.
6. Take the certification exam for sports physical therapy
The American Board of Physical Therapy (ABPT), offers the Sports Physical Therapist Certification Exam. This exam tests skills in assessing and treating athletes and patients who participate in athletic activities. The exam consists of three parts: Part I, II, and III. Each part contains multiple choice questions. You must pass each section within one hour to receive credit. If you are interested in becoming certified, you can register online for the exam at www.abpts.org/exam.
Jobs similar to a sports physical therapist
Sports physical therapy is one of many different types of careers related to health care. There are plenty of opportunities out there for people looking to make a positive impact on others’ lives. Sports physical therapists help athletes recover from injuries and work with patients recovering from surgery. They also treat children and adults with orthopedic problems such as broken bones, sprains, and strains.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for occupational therapists is expected to grow 13% over the next decade. In addition, the BLS predicts that demand for performance specialists will increase by 11%. This includes positions like athletic trainers, strength coaches, and team physicians.
Here are some other interesting career paths that might appeal to you:
1. Athletic trainer
2. Strength coach
3. Team physician
4. Physical therapist assistant
5. Occupational therapist assistant
6. Physician’s assistant
7. Nurse practitioner
8. Clinical nurse specialist
9. Medical laboratory technician
10. Speech language pathologist
11. Health educator
13. Home health aide
14. Dental hygienist
18. Massage therapist
19. Personal fitness trainer
20. Exercise physiologist
22. Respiratory therapist
23. Emergency medical services provider
24. Pharmacy technician
25. Veterinary technician
26. Medical billing clerk
27. Medical transcriptionist
28. Medical records administrator
29. Medical receptionist
30. Medical office manager