Athletic Therapy

Athletic Therapy
  By Catherine Shannon

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A knee injury that benched Andrea Prieur for a basketball season also launched her career in athletic therapy. Andrea now works with the likes of Katarina Witt, Elvis Stoijko and the National Women’s Softball team, running out onto the ice or the field to set a broken bone, wrap a sprained knee or maybe even prep a spinal injury for the paramedics. The 28-year-old athletic therapist runs a highly-respected athletic therapy clinic, teaches, and also travels and works at sports competitions around the world. Recently Andrea spoke with Campus Starter writer Catherine Shannon about her very cool job.

What is athletic therapy?
Athletic therapists deal with any orthopedic injuries, so that includes skin, muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments. We not only specialize in work and sports injuries, we also work with people that have been hurt in car accidents.

I work in clinics and do all the treatments that a physiotherapist would do. But athletic therapists are different from physiotherapists because we work in the field. The people you see working for the Blue Jays, or the Raptors, are called ““trainers”, but they are actually certified athletic therapists.

Do you ever have the chance to work with well-known athletes?
Oh, definitely. Last year, here in Brampton, we covered the National Women’s Softball series. I’ve worked with several members of the Women’s National Hockey Team, like Cassie Campbell. And I’ve worked with professional figure skating, too, a couple of times — competitors like Katarina Witt and Elvis Stoijko. They hire certified athletic therapists, and that’s because we’re known as the specialists.

When did you decide that athletic therapy was the career for you?
At the end of high school. I played hockey and baseball mostly, and then I hurt my knee in basketball, so I saw a therapist. I was getting the different modalities — the modalities are the machines, so things like ultrasound, muscle stimulation and muscle strengthening exercises. From that time on, I wanted to do something in the health field.

How did you prepare for university?
Well, there are two options: for athletic therapy, you can either get a bachelor of science degree at university, or you can actually do a bachelor of arts somewhere. But your science-based degrees are a lot better because you know and understand things more. So your important courses from high school would be biology, maths, chemistry, and physics.

What do you study in Human Kinetics and Athletic Therapy programs?
In the Human Kinetics program, we study how the body moves and works as machine. It’s a four-year Honours degree. The first couple of years are pretty generalized courses — like biology, anatomy, biomechanics — and then we take a lot of psychology courses.

For Human Kinetics, we actually had to take courses where we would play all kinds of sports like basketball or hockey. We had to take so many of those courses because when we graduated, they expected us to know about every type of sport. Even if we’re not that good, we know the technicalities of it. We learn how to coach

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