Roles And Responsibilities Of The Physical Therapist In Collegiate Athletics: Results Of A National Survey

Michael Zarro, Oliver Silverson, Wade Soenksen, Jill Thein-Nissenbaum, Elise Cataldo Cirone, Robert Rowland, Justin Staker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Over the past decade, there has been an increased focus on collaboration within collegiate athletics based sports medicine. Specifically, athletic trainers (ATs) and physical therapists (PTs) are working together, often side-by-side, to provide optimal care for the injured athlete. However, the roles and responsibilities of the PT within this model are currently not well described. Purpose The purpose of this study was to identify educational training, credentials, roles, and responsibilities of the PT working with collegiate athletes. Study Design Cross-sectional survey Methods An anonymous, descriptive online survey focusing on the demographic and occupational characteristics of PTs providing care for collegiate athletes was created and distributed electronically through the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy (AASPT), a subgroup within the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Results One hundred forty eligible responses were included. Sixty-four percent (90/140) of the respondents were male; 86% of the respondents (120/140) reported working in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I setting. Half (70/140) of respondents were also ATs, and 60% (83/140) were board-certified sports clinical specialists (SCS). All respondents (140/140) provide rehabilitation exercises; nearly all provide sports performance enhancement and manual therapy (97%, 136/140 and 96%, 135/140, respectively). Other identified roles and responsibilities included communication with the athletic training staff, event coverage, and personnel management. Conclusions The role of the PT within collegiate athletics sports medicine is highly varied; years of experience, certification, credentials, and location of patient care are also variable. Clinical Relevance PTs working in a collegiate athletics sports medicine setting have many paths to entry and diverse job duties. PTs interested in working in this setting should prioritize developing relevant experience and communication skills. Level of Evidence Level 3b.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1128-1135
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, North American Sports Medicine Institute. All rights reserved.


  • collaborative care
  • collegiate athletics
  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation
  • sports medicine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Roles And Responsibilities Of The Physical Therapist In Collegiate Athletics: Results Of A National Survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this