As an athletic trainer who works for a physical therapy clinic, I have seen many advantages to having a whole team of physical therapists associated with you in the same company. Without a doubt, one of the biggest advantages to having athletic trainers and physical therapists working in the same company is the exceptional communication and quality of care this allows for athletes. To better explain the advantages of this working relationship, I am going to use an example of a soccer player who injures his hamstring during practice.
Having the athletic trainer present at the school will help ensure the athlete will be properly evaluated by a licensed healthcare professional and referred to any other health care professionals for appropriate follow up care. In this instance, the athletic trainer is suspicious that the soccer player has sustained a mild hamstring strain and talks to the athlete’s parents about being seen by a sports medicine doctor to rule out a hamstring tear. The parents agree and go see a sports medicine doctor who determines the athlete did not suffer a tear, just a mild strain. The doctor recommends three weeks of physical therapy, twice a week, to help the athlete recover as quickly and safely as possible so he can return to sports participation before the season concludes.
After seeing the sports medicine doctor, the parents of the injured athlete decide to go to the physical therapy clinic the school athletic trainer works for. Deciding to go to this particular clinic will benefit the athlete in a few ways. For instance, before the athlete’s first physical therapy appointment the athletic trainer calls and speaks to the physical therapist ahead of time to explain the mechanism of injury, what he saw on initial evaluation, what the diagnosis was from the doctor, what position the athlete plays, how much time is left in the season, and any other information specific to the athletes injury. This conversation before the first appointment will give the physical therapist necessary information that will help them have a better understanding of the injury and allow them develop as detailed and personalized plan of care as possible.
Another great reason why a student athlete would benefit from going to the same physical therapy clinic associated with the athletic trainer is because the physical therapist can directly update the athletic trainer on the progress the athlete is making in physical therapy. In addition, the physical therapist can tell the athletic trainer what the athlete should be doing on days the athlete is not going into the physical therapy clinic. The family’s health insurance may be paying for physical therapy two times a week, but having the athlete go into the athletic training room on the non-physical therapy days to do his home program and receive extra instruction from the athletic trainer means they are getting extra care for the money they are paying.
As the athlete progresses through the plan of care regimen and is close to returning to play, the athletic trainer and physical therapist continue to communicate about the exact steps the athlete will take to safely work their way back into full participation. The athlete will work with the athletic trainer at the school with running and agility drills, followed by non-contact practices, which ultimately culminate in the athlete being fully cleared to resume all forms of athletic participation.
This example just begins to describe the benefits of the athletic trainer and physical therapist team. There are no guarantees every student athlete will achieve amazing results every time. However having a continuous stream of communication between the parents, athletic trainer, and physical therapist does substantially increase the chances of fantastic outcomes for each of these injuries. The close relationship that I have with the physical therapists at The Center allows for the best possible outcomes for my athletes.
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