Irecieved a well written response to my post about NATA's attack on the APTA. In fact, it think the author deserves his response to be brought to our attention and not hidden away in the comments section. I present it here with out comments to allow for you to make you opinions. However, I will post a follow up response to some of his posts, separately.
I commend you for doing your homework before commenting on the educational qualifications of the ATC. Unlike the vast majority of physical therapists who oppose athletic trainers on almost all issues with little to no knowledge of the profession, educational preparation, qualifications and clinical proficiencies of the ATC, you have actually taken the time to investigate the profession and become educated.
I have to state that I disagree completely with your argument that ATC are unqualified to provide manual therapy to orthopedic patients. I also disagree that ATC are not trained in systems review.
While this may have been true a decade or more ago, the curriculums of athletic training programs have greatly expanded to include differential diagnosis and system review courses that do not involve the evaluation or treatment of orthopedic or sports injuries.
While I acknowledge that the program you selected appears to lack a manual therapy course, I would offer that, without course syllabi, we really have no idea of the didactic content of many of these courses. Instruction in manual therapy techniques is a requirement for accreditation for athletic training. The same can be said for an assessment course that includes a systems review of non-orthopedic conditions (in the case of Seton Hall this course is most likely titled General Medical Conditions).
Therefore, although it is not apparent from reviewing course titles, I assure you that students at Seton Hall and all other accredited Athletic Training Programs are receiving education in each of these content areas.
Finally, as a professor who holds each of these credentials and teaches both entry-level athletic training and entry-level physical therapy students, I can honestly state that in terms of their ability to perform an evaluation and differential diagnosis of both orthopedic and non-orthopedic dysfunction, I see absolutely no difference in abilities between graduates from the two programs in which I teach.
Furthermore, given the choice to be evaluated and treated for an orthopedic condition by either group of graduates, I would, without a second thought, select the entry-level athletic training professional. The depth of their knowledge regarding the evaluation, differential diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of orthopedic conditions is far superior to that of most physical therapists.
Additionally, students in the entry-level athletic training program receive a far more extensive education in terms of therapeutic exercise, therapeutic modality selection and application, orthopedic assessment (including a full course of evaluation and treatment of the spine) and diagnostic imaging than the PT students at the same institution.
To be fair, the breadth of knowledge that the PT students possess in terms of non-orthopedic conditions (neurological, cardiopulmonary, integumentary, etc.) is far superior to that of the entry-level athletic training students.
This is only one example from one University in the country, but I think it illustrates the need to allow each profession to practice according to their educational competencies and professional qualifications and not according to title alone.
While I wholeheartedly agree that physical therapy should be provided only by licensed physical therapists (not ATC, DC, OT or MD), I would remind you that joint mobilization is a treatment technique provided by a wide variety of qualified practitioners. Joint mobilization is not physical therapy.
I applaud you for taking the time to become more educated on the matter. I wish more physical therapists would follow your lead. However, I would caution you that until you walk in each professional's shoes (as a student and/or an educator), you should reserve judgment on exactly who is qualified to deliver various treatment interventions.
James Scifers, DScPT, PT, SCS, LAT, ATC