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Curriculum & Experience


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

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

Scope of Physical Therapy Residency

The scope of the sports physical therapy residency will be based upon the Description of Specialty Practice (DSP) for sports physical therapy updated in June of 2017. The content areas for a sports physical therapy residency will include:

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


The sports physical therapy residency will be structured to provide the resident with a wide range of experiences to develop advanced clinical skills in sports physical therapy. The residents will be expected to work 40-50 hours per week. Experiences will include the following:

Patient Care (50%) - The resident will evaluate and treat a limited load of patients with a variety of musculoskeletal pathologies that are commonly found in the sports physical therapy setting. This will include management of patients with pathology of the knee, shoulder, foot, ankle and spine. Biomechanical analysis of the following is also common: gait, throwing, golf and cycling. Time will be provided for one-to-one clinical instruction between the resident and mentor. Clinical practice under the supervision of the mentor will allow the resident to develop psychomotor skills and clinical reasoning processes necessary to effectively evaluate and treat individuals with sports related injuries.

Teaching (15%) - The resident functions as Academic Staff/Lab Assistant in the musculoskeletal curriculum in the UW-La Crosse Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. The resident will attend all class sessions and assist in lab instruction for evaluation procedures to the upper/lower extremities and sports specific topics. The resident and course instructor, Paul Reuteman, PT, OCS, ATC, will also select three lectures that the resident will be required to present to the students.

On-Field Management of Athletic Injuries (5-8%) -The resident will assist in providing coverage of athletic events under the guidance of a certified sports physical therapist or certified athletic trainer. This will allow the resident to develop skills to prevent, recognize, evaluate and treat acute sports injuries.

Observation of Physician Office Hours and Surgery (2-5%) - The resident will observe physicians during office hours to gain an appreciation for diagnosis and medical management of common sports related injuries. The resident will also have the opportunity to observe surgery to gain an understanding of current surgical techniques to manage sports related injuries.

Research (10-15%) - The resident will be required to design, conduct, and complete a clinical research project related to sports physical therapy and present to Gundersen Sports Medicine. Additionally, the resident will be required to summarize the results in a format suitable for presentation and publication.

Educational Activities (10-15%) - The resident will participate in numerous educational activities in order to develop evidence based rationale that are required for prevention, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries in an active athletic population. This will include participation in in-services, journal clubs and conferences. Instructors will also present didactic lectures to provide the residents with knowledge and understanding of the basic sciences that are related to management of athletic injuries and improvement in human performance. Additionally, the resident may be required to provide in-services for staff members at the host institution. The residency program has also established clinical affiliations with Vail Valley Medical Center and the University of South Dakota departments of Physical Therapy and Athletics to provide additional clinical experiences.

Evaluation of the Resident

To demonstrate their knowledge and skills, residents will be expected to satisfactorily complete a series of both written and practical examinations with the residency director and/or residency faculty. These evaluations will include a midterm and final written assessment with the Sports Physical Therapy Clinical Resident Tool and Post-Graduate Physical Therapy Professional Behaviors Assessment Tool. A series of practical examinations covering both lower/upper extremities and spine related pathologies will be administered throughout the course of the residency year. The resident will also be required to log a minimum of 200 hours of on-field athletic game coverage, 50 hours of which can be completed in the athletic training room setting. A practical examination for acute emergency response situations will be completed by the end of the residency year.

Length of Residency Program

The residency program will be a minimum of 12 months in length. Clinical residents will be expected to work 40-50 hours per week. This will allow adequate time for the resident to develop theoretical rationales as well as psychomotor and clinical reasoning skills necessary to be proficient as a sports physical therapist. Additionally, this will allow time for the resident to design and complete a minimum of one research project. Beginning the residency in July will allow the resident to begin their experience for on-field management of athletic injuries at the start of the fall sports season.

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