Written by Whitney Dikoume, BKin, CAT(C)
Athletic therapy, is a healthcare profession that can often be overlooked even though it has so much to offer the rehabilitation world. Athletic therapist have an in-depth knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and how it works in conjunction with the nervous systems in our body.
Athletic therapist can and do work in a diverse environments, however there is still a misconception on what they do either because of their title or because their treatment/sessions are often a combination of various treatment style, so sometimes it gets piled along with wellness services. A session with an athletic therapist can be just manual therapy, manual therapy & movement therapy (training), or just training. This is because there are various stages of rehab and each one require different interventions.
As a certified athletic therapist, this profession seems to become more important to me when I see the people I am able to help get back to their activities. I decided to pursue athletic therapy seriously during my last semester as a senior in high school. I remember flipping through the brochure from the University of Calgary (yes, I am that old) and mentally mapping out how I thought the journey would go. Standing on the other side of it, I have realized that nothing could’ve prepared me for how that journey would go and I am so happy for that. When I first got into the program, as many believe today, I thought I would work with professional athletes 24/7, 365 days a week. I could see myself running onto the field when an athlete got hurt and safely bringing them off the court/field/ice, helping them through the rehab journey, and proudly watch from the bench when they make their first game back. I wanted to be helpful , to make a difference and my years as an athletic therapy student allowed me to experience that. I can distinctly remember my heart breaking with my athlete’s when they were injured and how excited I was when they were cleared to get back to their field of play.
It’s so much more than just being someone who tapes ankles before and after games, its hours of doing research and treatments to see how you can help your athletes get back to their sport. Its so much more than just giving & prescribing exercises.
After graduating university and becoming certified, athletic therapy took on a wider meaning to me. While going through my practicum in University, most of the people I worked with and around were athletes. They had 45-60 minutes of my time and we got to put together pieces of their injury together in that time, which allowed them to understand what was going on with their body and also provided some reassurance that they weren’t “losing” their mind when they felt something. When working as an athletic therapist today, I get to extend that exact level of service to anyone who would like to move without pain. This sentiment is the same with all the athletic therapists I have ever worked with. There is this misconception that athletic therapist only work with athletes because of the name but that could not be further from the truth. Every human being on this planet has muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and just like athletes do. Every human being does the exact same movements that athletes do albeit less intense. Athletic therapist work with those who have injured themselves and would like to get back to doing their activities of daily living without pain, discomfort, and most importantly safely. We’re routing for you to get back to your activity and I can’t describe the joy we feel when you’re able to do the movements that had been causing you pain without the later.
Being an athletic therapist means that, I get to be a wealth of knowledge on how to safely rehab injuries no matter what stage of rehab you are at. This so that you can get back to whatever activity you would like to get back to whether its professional sports, playing with your kids, or being able to go up and down stairs without pain.