Sports medicine physical therapists at On the Mend Physical Therapy in Mesa and Chandler are here to help athletes get back into their game due to sports-related injuries and after surgery that stemmed from a sport or sporting activity.
Physical therapists who specialize in sports medicine focus on helping athletes of all ages safely return to play following injury and/or surgery. Many therapists specialize even further by obtaining extra education or certifications in the treatment of certain types of athletes (runners, for example).
During a patient’s first appointment, the physical therapist will perform an evaluation to determine the cause and nature of the injury as well as the manner of treatment thus far. The therapist will also use a variety of tests and measures to assess—and identify deficiencies in—strength, coordination, balance, proprioception, and range of motion. He or she will also look for signs of swelling and inflammation, which help the therapist understand the progression of healing.
The therapist will then work with the athlete to set goals and create a plan of care.
Therapy plans for sports injuries typically include:
- Passive and manual techniques such as massage, joint manipulation, ultrasound, dry needling, and electrical stimulation
- Therapeutic exercises aimed at improving strength, balance, alignment, and flexibility
- Sport-specific exercises designed to improve speed, agility, and proprioception (this is especially important toward the end of a patient’s care plan, as it will help ensure a safe transition back to training and competition)
Concussions are all too common in athletes, and the approach to treating concussions has evolved in recent years. In fact, athletes who have suffered concussions often seek physical therapy to regain balance, vision stability, cognitive focus, and gait.
Specifically, treatment may include:
- Vestibular, balance, and ocular motor rehabilitation
- Vision and coordination (eye and head movement) testing
- Orthopedic evaluation of the neck (including evaluation of factors that may be causing headaches or dizziness)
- Education to ensure care continuity at home/school
- Guided exercise and instruction on home exercises
- Specialist referral