Exploring the role of the Canadian athletic therapist in the social support of an injured athlete




Mullaly Dobbin, Krista

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Rehabilitation of athletic injuries may include both physical and psychological components. When an athlete becomes injured they look to healthcare professionals to help them through their rehabilitation. These professionals are part of the social support network and among them are Canadian certified athletic therapists (CAT(C)). The aims of this qualitative study were to explore the role of a CAT(C) in the social support of an injured athlete by: (a) describing the nature of the therapeutic relationship between the athletic therapist and athletes; (b) exploring the social support provided by athletic therapists; and, (c) exploring how they perceive their preparation for the social support of an injured athlete. Purposive sampling was employed to recruit two male and two female Canadian certified athletic therapists, who had worked in a university setting, and were in good standing with the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association. Data were collected using webcam or telephone interviews. Findings were consistent with previous studies with health care professionals. CAT(C)’s played an integral role in dealing with the social support aspects of injury. Athletic therapists embraced their role in the social support of athletes and reported using strategies to enhance the therapeutic relationship, providing four dimensions of social support (emotional, esteem, informational and tangible) and acting as a communication link with other members of their social support network. CAT(C)’s acknowledged their limitations in the psychological side of injury due to only a small fraction of their educational curriculum preparing them for this aspect of injury. Experience was a key factor, and increased their comfort level.



social support, athletic therapist, certified athletic therapist, rehabilitation