While striving to meet your fitness and sport goals, you may encounter conditions along the way that requires rehabilitation or recovery. These conditions may arise from overuse mechanisms, faulty biomechanics, or traumatic episodes. Physical therapy will play a critical role in rehabilitation and recovery through specialized training regimens tailored to treat the injury. With the Direct Access law in Texas, an individual may seek physical therapy without a referral for a designated time before requiring one from a provider. This law allows you to seek physical therapy sooner, which has shown to lower overall healthcare costs and improve health outcomes.
A physical therapist may seek post-graduate residential or fellowship training in a particular specialty such as sports to advance their practice and expertise. A sport clinical specialist in physical therapy will have the capacity to establish a customized plan of injury prevention, injury management, and sport performance enhancement to maximize the athlete’s return to sport or participation. More importantly, sport specialists have the important administrative, educational, and ethical responsibilities to ensure the safety and well-being of the athlete. This often involves the collaboration and relationship between the athletes, coaches, parents, and other healthcare professionals.
According to American Physical Therapy Association, the designation of sports clinical specialist is held by less than 2% of all physical therapists nationwide. Here are some key benefits that an athlete may experience through sports physical therapy:
Differential Diagnosis and Specialized Intervention
The board-certified sports specialist will examine, evaluate, and provide a differential diagnosis with elements of the sport and performance in mind. Some injuries are very common among athletes such as fractures, sprains, and strains however, others are complex and unique. The sports specialist will design and develop a comprehensive intervention program to safely return the athlete to sport while minimizing the risk of reinjury. This often includes advanced physical therapy techniques and procedures taught in residential or fellowship training. Further, a sport specialist will develop and implement sport-specific, performance-based, functional progression programs. They will also implement functional tests to determine athlete’s ability and readiness to return to sport activities.
Sports Performance Enhancement
The activities of the board-certified sports specialist are concerned with optimizing the athlete’s sport performance, including training considerations and the effect of factors such as nutrition and environment on performance. In some instances, a sports specialist has experience and certification as a strength and conditioning specialist. The overlap and implementation of strength and conditioning and sports physical therapy principles allows for a more comprehensive, effective plan of care. The sports specialist is able to assess human performance such as testing and measuring speed, acceleration, VO2max, power, and other key performance indicators. They will develop and implement rehabilitation programs designed to enhance the overall human performance and sports specificity.
The sports specialists are highly concerned with injury or disease prevention for athletes. They plan, coordinate, and administer preparticipation physical examinations for the purpose of recognizing medical conditions or injuries that might affect the athlete’s performance. Further, the sports specialist will assess sport-specific fitness status to design and conduct preventive conditioning programs for in-season and off-season based on the individual athlete’s needs and demands of sport. Finally, the sports specialist will educate and provide recommendations for on injury prevention and potential safety risks.
Why choose sports physical therapy?
Sports physical therapy is based on a patient-client management model with emphasis on professional practice expectations, tests and measures, and intervention skills that distinguish a sports specialist from a nonspecialist. Whether you just had a surgical intervention, strained a muscle while exercising, or experienced a concussion, a sports specialist will be able to guide you from diagnosis to end of recovery and beyond.
In my career, I chose to pursue knowledge in exercise science, sports performance, and rehabilitation in order to navigate an athlete through the processes of development, performance, and recovery. It was highly important to me to have foundational knowledge in anatomy and physiology, movement science, pathology and pathophysiology, medical and surgical intervention, health and wellness, and research. Further, additional certifications such as pain neuroscience education, trigger point dry needling, and blood flow restriction training enhanced my clinical practice and expertise. The development of expert practice in these areas demonstrates a differing reasoning process based on knowledge and experience.
Each sports specialist will have their unique expertise and experience however the underlying principles remains constant. You can be confident that a sports specialist will have the capacity to guide your care effectively and efficiently. Timing is critical in rehabilitation therefore it would be beneficial to see a sports specialist sooner rather than later to assess and evaluate your condition. Sports physical therapy is an integral part to an athlete’s routine. It can help you prevent injuries, treat existing injuries, and improve your overall performance.
Reyes Performance Institute offers a wide range of sports physical therapy and performance enhancement services specifically tailored for athletes of all ages and abilities.
If you are looking for a board-certified sports specialist, you can trust RPI to provide the best quality of care for your sports injuries and needs.
Dr. Carlos Reyes
PT, DPT, SCS, MS, CSCS
Sports Physical Therapy Description of Specialty Practice. Alexandria, VA: American
Physical Therapy Association; 2022
Weber MD, Thein-Nissenbaum J, Bartlett L, et al. Competency revalidation study of specialty practice in sports physical therapy. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2009;4(3):110-122.