Leaning To Mental Wellness: Physical Therapy Vs Sports Therapy

People often interchange physical therapy and sports therapy. They might both be focusing on healing muscle injuries and bone complications, but there are many differences between these two professions especially when it comes to mental wellness. To help differentiate these two, listed below are some of the top differences between physical therapy and sports therapy.

Client Base

One of the most straightforward distinctions between these two is the client base. Physical therapy focuses on any patient who needs either mobility expansion or rehabilitation. Usually, the leading doctors recommend physical therapy to be a secondary source of disability or surgery.

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Physical therapists have the description as being “highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility,” as stated by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

On the other hand, sports therapy is more catered to athletes. Sports therapists mainly service sports team to be able to prevent injury, minimize or rehabilitate patients so they can go back to their original shapes. They are also tasked to conduct musculoskeletal training and prompt medical services during their sports competitions.

“Sports Therapy is an aspect of healthcare that is specifically concerned with the prevention of injury and the rehabilitation of the patient back to optimum levels of functional, occupational and sports specific fitness, regardless of age and ability,” according to the Society of Sports Therapists.

“Physical wellness is affected by physical activity, healthy nutrition, and adequate sleep.”Marjie L. Roddick, MA, NCC, LMHC

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Educational Requirements

A physical therapist requires a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). This post-baccalaureate degree takes nine semesters or 3 years to achieve. Several requirements are necessary to be able to pursue this program. This program requires a bachelor degree and some prerequisite subjects such as anatomy, statistics, biology, psychology, physiology, and chemistry.

Being a sports therapist is harder to attain than a physical therapist. Aside from the required four-year bachelor’s degree and four years in medical school, sports therapists also have to complete 3 to 5 years of residency and fellowship afterward. They also have to earn a license and board certification in that area.

Job Location

Both physical and sports therapists can work in their preferred location. According to data, however, physical therapists have clinics of their own and stay at their designated place. Sports therapists, on the other hand, travel for work so they can service their clients real-time – during practices and competitions.

Kinds Of Treatments

“Each therapist brings a unique perspective supported and integrated into the trauma treatment of our clients, from yoga and body work to early intervention, school-based intervention, and social action.”Marni Rosen, Psy.D.

Physical therapists’ approach is more focused on restoring basic skills which are used to embark on simple daily activities. Their patients should not receive intense rehabilitation workout since most likely they are not unfit.

  • Concussion Management – Physical therapists are the ones who are most responsible who suffer from concussion-related problems. The patients receive personalized rehabilitation programs which will address his or her specific needs.
  • Pre and Post-Operative Care – Pre-operative rehabilitation are given to those patients before the surgery so that they can experience the best operation. This approach usually attacks the mental capacity of the patient to survive the pain and better understand the treatments given to him or her. Post-operative rehabilitation, on the other hand, helps the patient regain their strength so they can do their daily activities.
  • Injury Screening – If the patient still has a real nagging pain that won’t go away, a physical therapist can conduct an injury screening. These screenings aim to evaluate the overall status of the patient’s pain which can then be used to design a specific approach to their needs.

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Athletes, on the other hand, are serviced through plyometric exercises since there is an assumption that they have an advanced fitness level. These plyometric exercises restore their recreation and athletic skills so they can participate in their competitions and practices. Listed below are some of the medical procedures a sports therapist can do:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction – The ACL is the most commonly torn ligament in the knee. When someone experiences a tore, it must be treated as soon as possible so that it won’t get damaged over time.
  • Restoration of Articular Cartilage – The articular cartilage is the tissue which forms joints at the end of the bones. The role of a sports therapist is to conduct a medical procedure so that they can stimulate the growth of new cartilage.
  • Labral Repair – A labral tear is a kind of injury which happens to the labrum of the shoulder. What sports therapists can do is to execute a physical examination or perform imaging tests. They can also do nonsurgical steps or suggest a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to solve this problem.

With all of these in mind, before choosing the best profession for you or you want a specialized doctor who will cater your injuries, make sure to know the difference between a physical and sports therapist. Because Julie Simon, PsyD said, “While therapy can be challenging, it can also be the catalyst that allows you to live a more fulfilled and peaceful life.”



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