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Dr. Susan Giblin, sports programme manager insight

We are delighted to share this information piece from Dr. Susan Giblin, sports programme manager explaining why sports therapists are important in sport and the difference with physiotherapy. This piece is crucial for anyone considering a career as a sports therapist or in physiotherapy.

Both physiotherapists and sports therapists are highly educated in dealing with musculoskeletal disorders, treating pain and injury through hands-on treatment modalities, rehabilitation and patient education. Both focus on restoring, maintaining and maximising movement, relieving pain and increasing quality of life.

Sports therapists are experts in musculoskeletal disorders. They treat pain and injury through hands-on treatment and rehabilitation. Sports therapists undergo an intensive three-year degree course which focuses primarily on the musculoskeletal system and on restoring, maintaining and maximising movement to relieve pain and increase quality of life.  Sports therapists generally have more exposure to sporting environments at an undergraduate level making them ideal for preventing sports injuries through specific strengthening programmes. Sports therapists focus solely on musculoskeletal rehabilitation and have a sports focused background, and this makes them attractive to patients who are aiming to return to exercise.

To give further clarity to this the regulating body of Sports Therapy is The Society of Sports Therapists (SST) describe the profession as: “An aspect of healthcare that is specifically concerned with the prevention of injury and the rehabilitation of the patient back to optimum levels of functional, occupational and sports specific fitness, regardless of age and ability. It utilises the principles of sport and exercise sciences incorporating physiological and pathological processes to prepare the participant for training, competition and where applicable, work.”

Physiotherapy on the other hand is a healthcare profession regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). In order to use the title Physiotherapist or Physical Therapist, practitioners must graduate from an approved course of study, typically a three-year degree programme, and meet a strict set of criteria set out by the HCPC. For a Physiotherapist to be classified as a Chartered Physiotherapist they must also be a full member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).

The role of the physiotherapists is to help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.

Physiotherapy at an undergraduate level covers neurological (for example stroke, multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s), neuromusculoskeletal (such as back pain, whiplash associated disorder, sports injuries, arthritis), cardiovascular (chronic heart disease, rehabilitation after heart attack) and respiratory (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis) disorders and treatment paradigms.

A perfect example of the link between both professions is our Sports Therapy Graduate Dan O Mahony who completed the sports therapy degree at Portobello Institute securing a place on his dream course in Physiotherapy.

Portobello Institute offer a 3 year degree programme in sports therapy which is perfect for anyone wishing to open their own sports therapy clinic or indeed as a platform for further study. For details contact George on 01 8920041 or

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