As the demand for physical therapists and athletic trainers grows, so will the need for assistance in training rooms and sports medicine facilities. A Sports Medicine Aide assists PTs and ATCs with basic job tasks such as applying hot and cold packs or helping a patient into a hot or cold whirlpool. Sometimes referred to as physical therapy aides or athletic trainer aides (depending on who they’re helping), sports medicine aides can also monitor clients as they perform therapeutic exercises. Close attention must be paid to proper form as well as correct speed, range of motion, and number of repetitions/sets.
Often, the ATC or therapist will treat more than one patient or athlete at a time. They may also need to spend some extended time with a specific individual. The aide’s assistance allows the rest of those being treated to continue their exercise rehabilitation programs uninterrupted. It should be noted the aide is there to supervise the exercises, not to modify or add to the workout or modality without first checking with the sports medicine professional in charge.
Requirements for Becoming a Sports Medicine Aide
Many sports medicine aides are high school and college students who are interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, athletic training, or a related sports medicine field. Shadowing or working as an aide will provide insight about how sports medicine clinics function and what job duties various members of the staff perform. Aides generally receive on the job training from a qualified staff employee.
Some physical therapy or athletic training graduate programs prefer or require a certain number of volunteer hours in a clinical or hospital setting before the student can apply.
Job Requirements of a Sports Medicine Aide
A physical therapy or athletic trainer aide performs basic but important tasks in the clinic or training room.
Opening the clinic/training room:
- Be sure the charts for the day’s patients have been pulled
- Fill the whirlpool to the proper level and set the desired temperature
- Put pillowcases and linen on treatment tables
- Review overnight messages from patients who may be changing an appointment
During the day:
- Apply hot and cold packs
- Assist patients into and out of the whirlpool
- Monitor patients as they perform exercises
- Change linen after treatments
- File paperwork and charts
- Inform therapists or trainer of client arrival
- Take phone calls from patients who are canceling or making appointments
- Retrieve equipment needed by the therapists or trainers
- Periodically clean the hydrocollator, the machine that holds and heats gel-filled packs for hot therapy
Closing the clinic/training room:
- Drain and clean the whirlpool
- Wipe down equipment and treatment tables
- Pull charts for the next day
- Discard used linens
Although many of the aide’s job responsibilities lack appeal and fall into the menial task category, they are nonetheless essential for the daily operation of a sports medicine clinic.