The second an injury occurs, the main goal for an Athletic Therapist is to help individuals get back to their sport or activity, in a way that boosts confidence, and effectively manages any factors that could contribute to repeating or chronic injury.  Athletic Therapists are experts when it comes to on-site and initial care of athletic injuries, and are excited to work through gradually returning those with issues back to their activities with the proper reconditioning.


Athletic Therapists(ATs) are often seen on the field/ice/court/mat. They often provide behind the scenes work to keep individual or groups of athletes healthy, as well as respond to any emergent situation. We are the glue that keeps the ship running smoothly, from training to competition, and everywhere in between, depending on the goals for the sport or activity. (Did you know that Cirque du Soleil has AT's on staff?)


An AT's job is to recognize anything harmful to an athletes' health, and mitigate further complications from arising. We know that health is an ever-expanding field, and so for an AT, that can include helping with:

  • concussion prevention and return to play protocols,

  • preventing heat/cold illness when training,

  • proper fluid and nutrition replacement,

  • injury prevention warm-ups and cool-downs,

  • prophylactic taping, and even

  • recognizing allergies or skin conditions to prevent team health outbreaks.


What sets ATs apart from Physiotherapists is their ability to care for an injury right after the instant it occurs, care for it in the clinic setting and continue supporting the athlete right up until they return to the field/ice/court/mat/gym again. Their primary goal is to get athletes back to their sports as efficiently and safely as possible. 

AT is Not Just for Athletes

AT's understand the body by how the demands of a sport and the functional body mechanics can stress the body. This is not exclusive of everyday movement and daily stressors to the bones, muscles and joints. Everyone is an athlete in their own life, and deserves care tailored to that!

Is AT different than a "trainer" or Physio?

Yes, AT's are definitely different! Any person can be named a "trainer," and this can mean variable knowledge and skills. The title "trainer" is not regulated by professional standards or formal years of education. AT's are ready to respond to keep someone alive if an emergency occurred, or return someone back to their activity safely and effectively. You want someone trained for that, with no guesswork!

Both Physiotherapists and Athletic Therapists work with bone/muscle/joint conditions. A Physiotherapist has a wider scope of practice that includes medical conditions and diseases related to the cardiorespiratory or nervous system. Most Physiotherapists are musculoskeletal practitioners, but you can often find Physiotherapists in hospitals, helping patients move/breath/walk again after open heart surgery or a stroke, for example.

Read a blog post Erin has written on the Alberta Athletic Therapist Association website here.

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