Just like physicians who specialize in different areas of medicine, physical therapists can earn certifications in niches of rehabilitation. Sports Physical Therapy is different from typical orthopedic training in that it applies manual therapy techniques, therapeutic exercise prescription and modality application to the athletic population. Athletes tend to have different injuries, different activity risks, and different responses to the rehabilitation process than typical individuals.
They also have to deal with decisions affecting their competitive season, off-season conditioning programs and have a heavier reliance on nutritional supplementation. The Sports Physical Therapist is trained in how to administer these rehabilitation applications in both on and off-the-field settings and can collaborate more efficiently with athletic trainers and team physicians in managing the needs of athletes rehabilitating sports injuries.
There are also benefits to non-athletes who receive care from a Sports Physical Therapist as opposed to non-certified providers. There is a heavy academic component to the certification processes, as well as practical examinations in manual therapy techniques and exercise-based interventions. The additional training required to complete the exams goes above and beyond entry-level physical therapy instruction and authenticates the competence and aptitude required to satisfy the rigorous standards required to achieve certification. Each certified sports physical therapist has demonstrated proficiency in the knowledge and skills required in evaluating and treating collegiate and professional athletes, and they utilize this expertise with every client…athlete or not.
Benefits of seeing a Sports Physical Therapist:
What conditions sports physical therapists treat:
I’m an in-season athlete, do I need approval to see a sports therapist?
Many teams have requirements that injured athletes are assessed by the coaching staff and team medical providers prior to seeking care from a non-affiliated healthcare professional. Check with your team for specific rules that may apply to your care.
What age groups do sports physical therapists treat?
We assess and treat all ages of athletes from children to seniors. Each age group has its own considerations for sports participation and injury risk, regardless of skill level.
Will my insurance plan cover sports physical therapy?
Most insurance companies include physical therapy, regardless of the niche, in their covered benefits, although each plan may have different requirements for accessing care. Check with your insurance company to make sure that physical therapy is covered, determine if a referral from your doctor is required, and that the therapist you would like to work with is covered by your plan.
I don’t have an insurance plan, or don’t want to use health insurance for this injury. Can I pay out of pocket for your services?
Yes. Colorado is a direct-access state for physical therapy, and time of service rates are available for those clients not wishing to use health insurance plans for their care.
Will the sports physical therapist communicate with my team about my injury?
That depends on you (or your guardian if you are a minor) and how much information you want shared with your coaches and team medical providers. We can discuss this option at the time of your visit, and are always happy to share our findings and treatment plans with those individuals you approve.
Will the sports physical therapist be available for assessment and treatment at practices and games?
Typically not, although individual arrangements can be made based upon need and availability. Many teams have their own medical staff, and additional healthcare provider input should be considered on an invitation-only basis for professional courtesy.