Sports injuries and workers compensation.

How to treat the injured worker: Ideas from a sports certified specialist

 The two ideas may not automatically mesh in your head; however, I am here to testify to the fact that they do, indeed, correlate. First, lets address the burning question of what a sports certification is and what it means to have one. There are over 200,000 licensed physical therapists in the United States. Among those, there are approximately 25,000 therapists that are classified as board certified in a specialty. These 24,000-25,000 therapists are split among 9 specialties that include: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, Geriatrics, Neurology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Sports, Pediatrics, and Women’s Health. Focusing on Sports, there are approximately 2300 board certified sports specialists in the United States. Further breaking down the numbers, there are less than 100 certified sports specialists in the state of Pennsylvania. As you can probably tell by this point, specialty certifications can be considered distinctive and exclusive. I can only speak to what it means for me to have my sports certification, but I believe many certified specialists would explain that they chose their specialty with great care.

I had been a physical therapist for about 3 years when I decided to try for this specialty. Being an athlete throughout high school and college, I was always drawn to the prospect of treating athletes. So, I began the journey of studying. I had about 1 year to study for the exam, which included pouring over hundreds of articles of new research, re-teaching myself some basics from the general physical therapy boards, and learning how to approach the treatment process with a new mindset. The certification required me to attain the knowledge of what treatments had worked in the past, what is working now, and what will work in the future for each and every body part. Fast forward to 1 year of studying, 5 hours of exam taking, and about 200 questions answered, to passing the exam. Now that I had the certification, the question became, what can I do with it? I had a great job working with workers compensation and auto injuries at The Injury Care Center, and I was determined to show that this certification is just as relevant here as it would be if I were working with any professional sports team. I do not believe that any patient should be treated differently with regards to compassion and understanding, whether they are collegiate athlete, a weekend warrior, or stay at home parent.

An individual going through workers compensation is in a position in which they need to return to a high-level activity in an appropriate amount of time. Basically, they are the industrial athlete needing to “return to sport”. Think of yourself as an athlete attempting to make it back before the season is over. You may have the pressure of your family depending on your income, your job depending on your skill set, and/or yourself depending on your way of life. Many injured workers have requirements that include lifting large amount of weights and achieving and maintaining various functional positions and movements throughout the work day. The protocols I have learned, as well as the various treatment approaches I have studied are absolutely essential for treating these individuals. At The Injury Care Center, we utilize high end equipment and tools to achieve the goal of returning to function. We can provide every step of the rehabilitation process, from physician visits, specialist referrals, aquatic therapy, chiropractic care, and functional training. Every patient that enters our doors may be at a different functional level with different needs for rehabilitation. As clinicians, it is our job to sort through your impairments and needs with you to establish goals that make sense for you.

Workers compensation claims can be highly stressful. Let us assist you in part of the process. As a board-certified sports specialist, I am looking to incorporate my knowledge into your plan of care. I view each patient as an individual with separate needs and goals. Whether your job requires lifting upwards of 75 pounds, or sitting at the computer for 9 hours a day, we are here to help. You deserve the patience and respect of any clinician while you navigate this process. Just as an injured athlete, your body may be lacking the ability to perform at the level you are accustomed to. However, you have a unique need for consistent and exceptional care due to the fact that you may be experiencing alternative problems, such as loss of wages, while trying to recover. Thinking outside the box can be what makes a good clinician a great one. We promise to take the knowledge we have, and apply it to your injury and your needs as we accomplish goals together.


Author: Caitlin Shaw, DPT, SCS

901 West Ashland Ave.
Glenolden, Pa. 19036

Injury Care Center
901 W. Ashland Avenue
Glenolden, PA 19036

Injury Care Center
1502 Upland Street
Chester, PA 19013

Injury Care Center
3300 Grant Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19114