Sports Therapist vs. Physical Therapist Basics | Fremont College

Sports Therapist vs. Physical Therapist

Posted on July 2, 2017

When discussing future career options physical therapy and sports medicine are frequently misunderstood as the same thing.  While they are similar disciplines in that they both focus on healing injuries, there are distinct differences.  Both have become popular choices and rightly so.  A number of professionals would describe Physical Therapy and Sports Therapy as two of the most exciting and fulfilling career opportunities in the medical field. While these career paths may seem similar, there are differences.  Below is an outline of each career and what makes them distinct.

Physical Therapy Education & Profession

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists are “highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility.” Physical therapists work with all kinds of patients, whether they have been referred for rehabilitation after injury and subsequent surgery or are trying to improve range of motion for daily activities.

Physical therapists in the United States make an average annual salary of $85,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This fact, in addition to the knowledge that jobs in this field are expected to increase by 35% between 2014 and 2024, makes physical therapy a promising line of work for years to come.

Sports Therapy Education & Profession

Sports therapists are defined by the APTA as “[professionals who] work with athletes to prevent injury and evaluate, treat, and rehabilitate athletes who have become injured.” Sports therapists work specifically with athletes, and are usually the preferred experts used by sports teams nationwide in designing plans for optimizing workouts and preventing injury, as well as addressing and healing injury after it occurs.

The salary of a sports therapist can provide employees with a comfortable standing of living.  Sports therapists in the United States make an average annual salary of $82,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and have projected job growth of 36% between 2014 and 2024. For these reasons, Sports therapy is also an excellent choice of profession.

What’s the Difference?

Both sports therapy and physical therapy handle lots of the same tasks, but there are some notable differences between the two careers.

Client Base

One of the most significant distinctions between these jobs is the client base. Physical therapists work with any and all patients who are in need of rehabilitation or mobility expansion. Their clients are often referred by the patient’s main doctor, and their role is to be a secondary source of recovery from surgery or disability. Sports therapists, on the other hand, work specifically with athletes, and are often times hired by sports teams to offer immediate medical assistance during competitions, as well as musculoskeletal training optimization.

Location of Job

Because of the difference in patients that physical therapists and sports therapists work with, the place of occupation also differs. While both professionals can own private practices and work in offices, it is more common for physical therapists to work in this environment while sports therapists travel for their work and are actively involved with teams in practices and competitions.

License Requirements

A smaller difference between the two careers is the requirement for licensure. Both professionals must take the same Physical Therapy examination, but sports therapists are required to prove their knowledge in an additional section on sports medicine prior to obtaining a license.

Sports Therapy & Massage Courses

Sources:
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm
http://www.apta.org/AboutPTs/

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