Sports physical therapy education in the United States: Where do we go from here? A survey of american academy of sports physical therapy members

Edward P. Mulligan, Mitchell J. Rauh, Bryan Heiderscheit, Walter L. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The specialty of sports physical therapy has grown substantially in size and scope over the past 50 years. Despite this growth, there is limited information on the educational opportunities and entry-level skills of clinicians in the management of sports-related injuries. Purpose: To characterize the opinions of sports physical therapists on: 1) factors that distinguish the practice of sports physical therapy, 2) the need for sports physical therapy content to be included as part of entry-level physical therapy curriculums, and 3) the perceived levels of competence for the typical new entrylevel graduate regarding skills and knowledge unique to sports physical therapy. Study Design: Cross-sectional descriptive survey. Methods: A 54-item web-based questionnaire was distributed to student and professional members of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy (AASPT). Results: In total, 565 (7.4%) AASPT members responded to the survey. 60% of respondents did not have a specific sports physical therapy curricular course during their physical therapy education training. 95% felt the patient's rehabilitation goals or activity level aspirations were a primary factor that differentiated the practice of sports physical therapy from orthopedic physical therapy. 59% believed that sports physical therapy curricular education should be required content by CAPTE, and 37% believed that elements of sports physical therapy practice represent entry-level skill and knowledge. Most respondents indicated that entry-level graduates were novice in 11 of the 18 content areas identified as inherent to sports physical therapy. Conclusion: The survey findings suggest further work is needed to define the extent of sports physical therapy content included in professional education curricula in the United States and how to best integrate it with post-professional education. The findings provide information for educators to discuss regarding the necessity, structure, and implementation of education content needed to prepare new graduates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E79-E87
JournalJournal of allied health
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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