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Athletic Therapy vs Physiotherapy, What's the Difference?

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Many people hear the words 'Athletic Therapy' and think that you have to be an athlete to see an athletic therapists, but athletic therapy is for everyone. The other thing that Athletic therapy is often confused with is physiotherapy, however there are some significant differences between the two scopes of practice.

Throughout a 4-year bachelor degree, Athletic Therapists specialize in the prevention, immediate care, and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries (bones, muscles, joints) especially as they relate to athletics and the pursuit of physical activity. Prevention of individuals involves prophylactic and supportive taping, postural evaluations, equipment fitting, musculoskeletal functional evaluation, and patient specific conditioning programs.

Athletic Therapists are trained in emergency first response for immediate care of an individual and provide an in depth assessment of both acute and chronic injuries for optimal rehabilitation. Rehabilitation techniques consist of primarily manual therapy as well as instrument-assisted therapy, therapeutic modalities and physical reconditioning.

Physiotherapists are health care professionals that aim to achieve and maintain optimal health outcomes with their clients. They gain a wider scope of practice throughout a 2 year Masters Degree, which includes orthopedics, cardio-respiratory rehab, pediatrics, geriatrics, stroke rehab, and neurological disorders. Usually physiotherapists will take continuing education to expand on an area of interest once graduated.

Athletic Therapists and Physiotherapists are two distinct professional designations with different training approaches and scope of practice, but a lot of time treatment outcomes and techniques are similar.