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Sports Physical Therapy Residency

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The Sports Physical Therapy Residency Program, sponsored by Gundersen Medical Foundation, has existed since 1996 and has successfully prepared our graduates to become specialists in the physical therapy management of sports-related injuries. We have the distinction of being the second sports physical therapy residency program in the country to be initially credentialed through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and continue to be accredited and held to the high standards of the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE).

Over the more than 25 years of our program's existence, we have graduated 40 residents in Sports Physical Therapy. The program has a 100% pass rate for graduates who have sat for and completed their board certification as Sports Physical Therapy Specialists (SCS). Upon completion of the residency our graduates have been employed in an array of professional positions including clinical and academic settings.

Located in La Crosse, WI, the program is affiliated with Gundersen Health System—a regionally based, multi-specialty health system across Western Wisconsin, Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota.

Program overview

Mission Statement
We distinguish ourselves in the area of preparing sports physical therapists through excellence in patient care, education, research and community service while improving the health of the communities we serve.

Benefits information

Participant Learning and Achievement

The program provides opportunities for the clinical resident to gain cognitive knowledge and psychomotor skills in a variety of areas, including but not limited to:

  • Obtaining advanced clinical assessment and treatment skills related to specific sports injuries.
  • Being able to perform clinical biomechanical analysis of patients with running, golf and throwing-related injuries and provide specific interventions unique to this patient population.
  • Becoming competent in the performance and interpretation of isokinetic, joint arthrometer and functional testing procedures relative to a sports medicine population.
  • Obtaining experience with on-field injury assessment and specific injury management procedures in both a high-school and recreational sports setting.
  • Gaining and sharing insight on sports injury assessment and management with other health professionals (orthopedists, physician assistants, athletic trainers, RN's, primary care physicians, etc.).
  • Developing clinical research skills with the goal of completing and presenting an individual research project at the APTA Combined Section Meeting or the SPTS Team Concept Meeting and submitting it for publication.
  • Advancing clinical knowledge through participation in teaching, prepared presentations to peers/students and direct interaction with other sports medicine specialists.
  • Developing the ability to critically review research materials/journals for the purpose of accurately applying the information during direct patient contact and advancing knowledge of evidence-based practice.

Scope of Physical Therapy Residency

The scope of the Sports Physical Therapy Residency is based upon the Description of Residency Practice (DRP) for sports physical therapy updated in June 2019. The content areas for a sports physical therapy residency include:

  • Rehabilitation/return to sports
  • Management of acute injury/Illness
  • Medical/surgical consideration
  • Injury prevention
  • Sports performance enhancement
  • Professional roles and responsibilities

Residency Description

The program involves a one-year experience in a dynamic sports physical therapy setting, incorporating a half-time clinical practice (20 hours/week); didactic classroom and teaching experiences in the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse; and established mentored experiences in advanced clinical practice, athletic training and clinical research. A program start date near the beginning of July allows the resident to begin their experience for on-field management of athletic injuries at the start of the fall sports season.


Gundersen Sports Medicine is a regional based sports medicine practice that includes clinics in Onalaska, Wis., and Winona, Minn. The clinic is affiliated and utilizes the resources of Gundersen Health System, which serves as the Western Academic Campus of the University of Wisconsin Medical School and the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse program in Physical Therapy. The residency program has also established clinical affiliations with the University of South Dakota departments of Physical Therapy and Athletics to provide additional clinical experiences.

Coverage Affiliations

Gundersen provides full-time athletic training services for eight area high schools and one Division II NAIA university. Coverage includes high-school athletic injury visitations and contracted game coverage for approximately 42 area high schools and one university.


The Sports Physical Therapy Residency creates a Newsletter each Spring featuring program events, residents, faculty, and past graduates. To receive our newsletter, please contact the Program at [email protected].

Unique Features

1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

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