International Federation of Sports Physiotherapists and the impact of the SPA Project for sports physiotherapists worldwide.
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Dekker-Bakker, L. & Bulley, C. (2005) International Federation of Sports Physiotherapists and the impact of the SPA Project for sports physiotherapists worldwide., , , , ,
What is a sports physiotherapist? How does a professional become a sports physiotherapist? These questions are at the heart of the SPA Project. This innovative three-year project is being funded by the European Union Leonardo da Vinci programme. It was initiated by the International Federation of Sports Physiotherapy (IFSP), an international resource for sports physiotherapists. The SPA Project is the result of collaboration between the IFSP and five higher education institutions from across Europe. It is supported by the Member Organisations of IFSP, WCPT, National Olympic Committees and other interested organisations and individuals from across the globe. The first step of the project involved the development of competencies and standards. The following questions had to be answered: what is distinct about a sports physiotherapist? What are the core roles and behaviours of the sports physiotherapist? What level of mastery should they aim to achieve? Answers to these questions will impact on employers, educators, and the individual sports physiotherapist. Competencies provide answers to these questions by describing the core roles and behaviours of the sports physiotherapist, while standards focus on the level of mastery required of the specialist1, 2. The process of developing sports physiotherapy competencies and standards allowed the communication of international differences as well as similarities3. Achieving a common description of the sports physiotherapist is important for several reasons. Some of these are political: shared understandings allow greater international mobility for professionals. The competencies and standards can also be used to increase professional recognition and to ensure quality of service provision. However, there are a variety of benefits for the individual sports physiotherapist. Developing a career pathway is difficult without a defined goal. The competencies and standards allow the professional to target their professional development. Evidence of knowledge and skills can be documented using the portfolio approach. An audit toolkit is under development to facilitate this process. Learning needs can be identified, allowing individuals to seek appropriate learning opportunities. Educators will be able to design courses to be more appropriate to the sports physiotherapist’s needs.