Sports physiotherapists can now study online for an international-standard qualification thanks to the first course designed to meet the practice competencies set by the International Federation of Sports Physiotherapy (IFSP).
The distance learning programme developed by the University of Bath is now accepting applications from practicing physiotherapists for the start of the programme in September 2007.
Part-time and flexible, the programme is designed to incorporate the physiotherapist's ongoing professional work within their study, and can lead to a postgraduate certificate, diploma or MSc in Sports Physiotherapy depending on duration of study.
"It is becoming increasingly important for sports physiotherapists to achieve the qualifications that support their experience if they want to continue to work at the highest levels," said Sonya Crowe, sports physiotherapy course team member in the University's School for Health.
"To work with Olympic-standard athletes and elite teams at major international events, sports physiotherapists are required to have achieved an MSc qualification.
"Whilst many sports physiotherapists are vastly experienced, the thought of taking time out for study is unappealing to them.
"This new part-time e-learning programme will help physiotherapists meet the educational standards demanded by their profession whilst continuing their employment and maintaining an active involvement in sports physiotherapy.
"It is designed to incorporate their work into the study programme - ensuring that learning is directly relevant to individual needs and can be immediately applied to enhance practice.
"Face-to-face teaching at the University's prestigious Sports Training Village complements the online learning."
Tutors and clinical placements are drawn from the University of Bath Sports Injury Clinic, which employs a team of world class physiotherapists who work with elite athletes and private clients alike.
"It offers the opportunity to expand the knowledge and professional development in the management of athletes of all ages and abilities," said Ms Crowe.
"This reflects the approach we take with our own Team Bath athletes.
"We provide the best possible multi-disciplinary management of injuries and performance enhancement for the full spectrum of recreational athletes to Olympic medalists."
The sports physiotherapy programme makes use the University of Bath's pioneering Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
This online facility gives people studying from home or work an interactive resource that also allows them to develop networks with the international community of students on the same course.
Built around video case studies, discussion forums and virtual clinics, the VLE gives students the opportunity to carry out practical-based study whilst using their own employment for additional experience.
The VLE has helped establish other courses offered by the University of Bath, such as those in Sport & Exercise Medicine, to become recognised as international leaders in healthcare training.
The sports physiotherapy programme has been developed in consultation with physiotherapists, professional bodies and allied healthcare associations.
"Following the graduation of the first cohort of students we hope that the programme will become the first to be accredited by the IFSP," said Ms Crowe, who is also the physiotherapist for the GB beach volleyball team and has worked in sports physiotherapy in the UK, USA and Australia, and at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, and currently in the Sports Injury Clinic in the Sports Training Village, on campus.
"It is already the first distance-learning programme specifically for sports physiotherapists, and we hope will appeal to students from around the world."
Source: University of Bath