In my career as an Athletic Trainer, (AT) I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing Physical Therapists (PTs). For this post, I interviewed one of my favorite PTs, Elise Cirone. Elise is a PT and an AT. She works for Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.
Physical therapists are licensed healthcare providers that evaluate, diagnose and manage health conditions and movement problems. When Elise and I worked together, I would often consult with her on cases for which I needed a different perspective.
Physical therapists can perform evaluations, screening and movement analyses to assist an individual with injury prevention. These can be general movement screenings and specific, such as a running gait analysis. PTs can also work with individuals with a running related injury and build rehabilitation plans that will return runners back to their sport as safely and quickly as possible.
Physical therapists are licensed healthcare providers. To practice physical therapy in the US, individuals must earn a doctor of physical therapy degree from an accredited physical therapy education program. The doctorate program is typically around 3 years long. It includes didactic and lab coursework, along with clinical education experiences. Physical therapists may also achieve board-certified specializations through advanced post-graduation education or years of clinical experience.
When looking for a physical therapist, you should make sure that the individual has the credential “PT” or “DPT”. Many board-certified specialists may also be valuable for a runner to work with, including orthopedics, sports and women’s health. Checking out these resources from the American Physical Therapy Association can assist you with finding a licensed provider in your area: Find a PT (apta.org) and tips for choosing a physical therapist: Resource | Choosing Your Physical Therapist | Choose PT
Many states do not require a physician referral to access physical therapy services, however, your individual health insurance policy may require you to obtain a referral. It is recommended to check in with your individual insurance provider for any requirements prior to obtaining care.
I asked Elise to tell me about a rewarding experience she has had with a patient. She said, “I have been fortunate to work with many athletes as part of a collaborative inter-disciplinary team. It is so rewarding to help an athlete back to their sport after an injury. Some of my favorite cases to work with are post-surgical rehabilitations. It is incredible to see the progress from the acute, post-operative phase and work with an individual all the way back up to competing to their fullest potential. There is nothing quite like seeing an athlete back competing after a long journey!”
Here is another direct quote from Elise that I wholeheartedly agree with. “Physical therapists are a great asset to your success as a runner! I encourage individuals to build themselves a “team” of individuals and experts to help achieve your goals! ” If you actually think of your health care team as an athletic team, your doctor would be the quarterback and your physical therapist and athletic trainer would be like the running back and wide receiver!