An Athletic Therapist uses a variety of physical techniques and therapies in the rehabilitation and treatment of athletes, and the general public, who are suffering from pain and injury.
In Ireland, professional and postgraduate level Athletic Therapists are often referred to as Certified Athletic Therapists or CATs. CAT stands for ‘Certified Athletic Therapist’. In order to become a ‘Certified Athletic Therapist’ the following educational pathway is required.
- An honours degree (NFQ level 8) in a field related to sports medicine with a minimum of 500 hours of related clinical experience.
- Be certified as an Emergency First Responder by PHECC (Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council), the national statutory body for emergency care standards and education.
- Pass the ARTI certification examination which has a theory and a practical section. 70% is required in both sections to pass the examination.
Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Ireland (ARTI) is the professional organisation responsible for the promotion, regulation, and continued education of Certified Athletic Therapists in Ireland. More information can be found on their website Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Ireland. Additionally, ARTI is a recognised member of the World Federation of Athletic Training & Therapy (WFATT).
Although Athletic Therapy is in its infancy as a recognised profession in Ireland, graduates of Athletic Therapy degrees in Ireland who become certified as CATs are eligible to work in the USA and the UK through the mutual recognition agreement which was signed in 2015.
This means Irish graduates are eligible to sit the NATA (National Athletic Trainers Association - USA) and CATA (Canadian Athletic Therapists Association) accreditation exams allowing a career pathway for Irish graduates to work in these countries should they wish to. Irish graduates are currently eligible to register with BASRaT (British Association of Sports Rehabilitators and Trainers) with no exam requirement should they choose to seek employment in the UK.
The professional title used by BASRAT members is G.S.R (Graduate Sports Rehabilitator). Many Irish Athletic Therapists are members of both organisations and use the titles CAT and GSR.
Differences between an Athletic Therapist and a Physiotherapist?
CATs specialise in the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries/pain related to physical activities. CATs can work with athletic and non-athletic populations.
Physiotherapy is a broad-based health care profession that addresses musculoskeletal care of the physically active but also divides its attention among a number of diverse medical fields, including oncology, obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics, rheumatology, respiratory and neurological illnesses and burn injury.
Job Description - Athletic Therapists
Certified Athletic Therapy can be divided into four general areas;
- Injury Prevention and Pre-Participation Screening
- Injury Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment
- Rehabilitation and Reconditioning
- (On-field) Emergency & Acute Care
CATs can work in a variety of settings, most typically in injury clinics, with professional and recreational sports teams or with national governing bodies (NGB’s) of various sports.
The ARTI accredited programmes currently offered in Ireland are: