Physical therapists and athletic trainers are two practitioners of Denver sports medicine that work with people who have sustained injuries. Both professionals have the capacity to treat injuries without the use of invasive and expansive surgery. However, that’s where the similarities between the two end. Physical therapists and athletic trainers require different certifications and educational attainment, and because of this, their areas of focus regarding patient rehabilitation vary.
Athletic Trainer vs. Physical Therapist: What’s the Difference?
Certified athletic trainers are professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of bone injuries and illnesses. They can provide immediate care when necessary. Meanwhile, physical therapists are healthcare professionals who treat individuals who have medical issues that limit their ability to move and perform normally.
A LIVESTRONG.com article provides further differentiation between the work done by an athletic trainer and a physical therapist.
Athletic Trainer Work
Athletic trainer positions often require long work hours that include nights and weekends to be available at team practices and games. You tape, bandage and brace athletes for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Employers require you to coordinate and carry out the physical rehabilitation of athletes. Often, athletic trainers study, evaluate and recommend new techniques and equipment. You are typically the first one to the scene of a sports injury and consult with a physician to diagnose and treat the athlete.
Physical Therapist Work
Physical therapists have more regular office hours than athletic trainers and require a level of fitness that allows for manipulating and lifting patients. As a physical therapist you work on an individual basis with patients over a period of weeks to months. Therapists develop and execute exercises that help improve patient’s range of motion, muscle strength, coordination, endurance and motor skills, according to PhysicalTherapist.com.
Which professional should treat your sports injury?
When an athlete is injured, an athletic trainer and physical therapist usually team up to help facilitate the athlete’s healing process. Rarely can one work without the other. Both professionals are part of a healthcare team, and like any other team, each member plays a role in helping the group achieve the desired results.
Where to find an able healthcare team
An established Denver orthopedics practice like Steadman Hawkins Clinic Denver employs a well-trained and experienced team of physical therapists and athletic trainers who work along with sports medicine and orthopedic physicians to ensure that you get the best possible treatment for your injury.
(Source: Athletic Training Vs. Physical Therapy, LIVESTRONG.com)