Perceptions of Physical Therapy and The Role of Physical Therapists In Injury Prevention Among Professional Basketball Players: A Qualitative Study.
Marks A, Courtney CA, Healey WE.
Background: Injury prevention is critical in competitive professional sports, however, the role of physical therapists in this aspect of healthcare is not fully understood.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe professional basketball players’ perceptions of physical therapy (PT) and physical therapists’ role in injury prevention.
Study Design: Qualitative, semi-structured interview
Methods: Thirty-five professional basketball players (mean age 23.1 years ± 3.9; 42% female; 72% African American; 90% college graduates) from over 20 teams participated. Athletes participated in semi-structured interviews that focused on injury prevention and utilization of PT services. Two researchers coded the transcripts, organized the findings into general categories, and created major themes. Data saturation was reached when no new information emerged.
Results: Over half (62.9%) stated that PT mainly addressed post-injury and return-to-sport rehabilitation. An overwhelming majority of players highlighted the use of an athletic trainer (AT) over physical therapists in injury prevention due to perceived expertise and trust.
Conclusion: While PTs are educated in preventive care and acute injury management, professional basketball players viewed their role primarily for return-to-sport rehabilitation. The organizational structure of healthcare in professional basketball may promote closer professional relationships with ATs while limiting those with physical therapists. The result is that elite athletes may miss out on treatment specific to the PT profession.
Level of Evidence: Level 4