Cassandra McCoy Intellectual Health Occupational Health Physical Health

Professionals Who Bridge the Gap in Women’s Health – Part 1

By Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT,

What is a Certified Athletic Trainer and what do they do? What is a Physical Therapist and what do they do?

What about a Women’s Health Athletic Trainer? Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?

All of these titles, professions and letters can get confusing, so let’s break down the professions of an Athletic Trainer and a Physical Therapist. Also, in Part 2 I will introduce the role and capacity of a Women’s Health Athletic Trainer and break down how two professions (Women’s Health ATCs/Pelvic Floor PTs) can work together to improve women’s health worldwide. 

Here are a few basics definitions:

ATC/AT: Certified Athletic Trainer

LAT: Licensed Athletic Trainer

PT: Physical Therapist

PFPT: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

According to the National Athletic Training Association (NATA), an Athletic Trainer is defined as “Health care professionals who render service or treatment, under the direction of or in collaboration with a physician, in accordance with their education and training and the state’s statutes, rules, and regulations. As a part of the health care team, services provided by athletic trainers include primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.” 

Athletic Trainers are seen in various settings with examples including military, orthopedic clinics, performing arts, physical therapy departments, private practice and so much more. ATCs/LATs do more than just tape ankles; we are medical healthcare professionals who have the education to prevent, rehab, educate, and treat active population across the lifespan. (Myth busting: You don’t have to be an athlete to see an athletic trainer!)

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a Physical Therapist is defined as “health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.” Physical Therapists are seen in hospitals, physical therapy departments, pediatrics, hospice services, private practices and more. 

Now, there has been a lasting conflict between the physical therapist profession and athletic trainer profession. Turf wars, conflicting opinions and more. In some settings, we see this divide disappearing. PTs are able to send their patients to a knowledgeable AT in order to continue their patients healing and help them return to what they love. ATs are able to work with active population in a variety of settings, patients they believe need more narrowed and concentrated help can refer a patient back to a PT.  

Stay tuned for part two on how these two professions can come together to change the dynamic of their professions,  women’s health and bridge the gap in women’s health.