Athletic Physical Therapy: Is It Any Different?

athlete being treated by an athletic physical therapist

When discussing future profession choices, physical therapy and athletic physical therapy are commonly misunderstood as an identical thing. While they are related disciplines in that they both focus on helping patients recuperate from injuries, there are distinct variations.  Both have become trendy choices and rightly so.

A number of experts might see physical therapy and athletic physical therapy as two of the most exciting and gratifying profession in the medical field. While these career paths may appear similar, there are differences.  Below is a summary of each profession and what makes them different.

Physical Therapy Education & Profession

When learning about physical therapy (PT) as an occupation, there is one physical therapy classifications that you will likely find useful when exploring PT as a profession. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists are “highly-educated, certified health care professionals who can aid patients lessen pain and recover or restore mobility.” 

Physical therapists work with every kind of patients, whether they have been referred for rehabilitation after injury and subsequent surgery or are trying to progress range of motion for everyday activities.

A physical therapy income can be well-paid for those who comprise both education and experience. Physical therapists in the United States can make substantial standard yearly salary. This fact, adding up to the knowledge that jobs in this field are expected to increase by 28% between 2016 and 2026, as of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, make physical therapy a hopeful line of occupation for years to come.

athletic physical therapy session with a patient

Athletic Physical Therapy Education & Profession

Athletic physical therapists are defined by the Society of Sports Therapists as “concerned with the anticipation of injury and the treatment of the patient back to best possible levels of useful, work-related and sports specific fitness, in spite of age and ability.” Athletic physical therapists might work particularly with athletes, and are frequently used by sports teams all over the country in designing plans for optimizing workouts and preventing harm, in addition to addressing and healing injury after it happens.

What’s the Difference?

Both athletic physical therapy and physical therapy may hold an amount of associated tasks, but there are well-known distinctions among the two professions.

Client Base

One of the most important distinctions between these occupations might be the client base. Physical therapists work with any and every patients who require rehabilitation or mobility development. Their customers might be referred by the patient’s main doctor, and their responsibility is to be a secondary source of recovery from surgery or disability.

Athletic physical therapists, then again, work particularly with athletes, and are frequently hired by sports teams to help avoid injury and the treatment of patients back to optimum levels during competitions.

Location of Job

Because of the difference between a physical therapists and athletic physical therapists, the place of occupation might also differ. Although both professionals can have private practices and work in offices, it might be more frequent for physical therapists to work in this environment whilst sports therapists may have to travel for their work and are likely actively drawn in with teams in practices and competitions.

Educational Requirement

Athletic physical therapists need a bachelor’s degree from a certified university, hundreds of hours of voluntary practical internship (my count at graduation was 1200+), and passing written and useful application board exams to get hold of a license.

Physical therapists need the same requirements, except it needs an undergraduate degree and then a Master’s degree (in addition to hundreds of voluntary practical hours, and then the successful achievement of written and practical board exams to get hold of a license).


Both Athletic and physical therapy apply clinical reasoning to measure, treat, and generate a plan for orthopedic injuries. Athletic physical therapy is mainly capable at rehabilitating athletic/sport injuries (sprains, strains, contusions, fractures, etc.) whereas physical therapy entails more education to assess/treat not just musculoskeletal injuries (as well as sports injuries) but as well asorthopedic, neurological, and cardiovascular situations (rheumatoid/osteoarthritis, MS, Parkinson’s, stroke, heart attack, etc.).athletic physical therapy (1)

An athletic physical therapist may be able to do concussion management, exercise medicine, sports taping, equipment/brace fitting, return-to-play training, and on-site sporting event therapeutic treatment (all of which is also in the repertoire of a Physical Therapist), but physical therapists are as well seen in hospitals, long term care facilities, pre-/post-surgical units, and working with car accident or work place injury issues.

[do_widget id=recent-posts-2]

[do_widget id=categories-2]

© 2019, precision sports physical therapy. all rights reserved.


 ‭(469) 602-5283‬