Re: Stakeholder feedback on Advanced Diploma of Sports Therapy

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1 18/02/2015 Katie Lyndon Senior Industry Development Officer Re: Stakeholder feedback on Advanced Diploma of Sports Therapy To Whom It May Concern: Thank you for providing (ESSA) with the opportunity to submit feedback regarding the Advanced Diploma of Sports Therapy delivered by the Australian College of Sports Therapy. ESSA is a professional association representing 4,734 members, including university qualified Exercise Scientists, Sports Scientists and Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs). As an industry stakeholder, ESSA has several concerns regarding the course content of the Advanced Diploma of Sports Therapy. 1. Industry need is currently met by existing qualified professionals The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) 1 states: Any organisation may put forward a request for inclusion of a new qualification type, in writing, to the AQF Council following comprehensive consultation with and support from the relevant industry, professional, provider and government stakeholders The AQF Council will make a decision about the addition of a new qualification type based on robust evidence that there is a sound educational reason for its addition and the new qualification type: does not duplicate an existing AQF qualification type, and meets a defined industry, professional or community need ESSA does not believe that there is a defined industry, professional or community need for an Advanced Diploma of Sports Therapy. Rather, greater utilisation of Physiotherapy, Sports Science, Exercise Science and AEP professions would meet industry, professional and community need for sports therapy professional services. Sports Scientists work at all levels of sport and provide individual athletes and teams with interventions to improve their sporting performance through the use of scientific knowledge, methods and applications in the areas of physiology, biomechanics, psychology, and motor control and development. The Exercise Scientist profession provide exercise interventions for low-moderate risk individuals, as well as improvements in health and disease/injury prevention in

2 the general population. The AEP profession provides exercise and health interventions for individuals at high risk of, or with existing, chronic disease and injury (e.g. musculoskeletal rehabilitation from injury). These interventions are frequently delivered as part of a collaborative approach within a multidisciplinary health care team with a specialised focus on physical activity advice, behavioural change and exercise prescription. Evidently, this Certificate does not offer any additional skills and knowledge to what is already available in the marketplace or where a workforce shortage is available. This is highlighted by the fact that there are currently 36 universities within Australia offering, at minimum, one course in exercise and sports science, equating to ~2,250 graduates per year. Courses are based in every state and territory within Australia producing professionals in Sports Science, Exercise Physiology and Exercise Science. 2. Lack of workforce opportunities at the professional sporting level The Australian sports science and medicine fields are under increasing scrutiny and review due to recent high-profile sports doping scandals and malpractice within the industry. Consequently, sporting bodies and associations are increasingly discerning in their human resource processes to ensure that only suitably qualified and regulated professions are selected to deliver sports science/therapy services to athletes. Given that Advanced Diploma of Sports Therapy graduates are not captured or regulated by any professional association (providing professional development, standards, code of conduct, disciplinary procedures etc.), we anticipate that there will be no role for these graduates in elite or professional sport moving forward. 3. Inappropriate pre-requisite course entry requirements The mandatory pre-requisite requirements for undertaking this Advanced Diploma are not specified. Given that some students may not have completed an appropriate level of foundational scientific studies, ESSA does not support the use of terminology such as advanced and specialised knowledge and skills and complex injury throughout the course description. Understanding the many basic, yet fundamental, concepts of science is absolutely necessary to build upon an advanced/specialised level of scientific knowledge. This is highlighted by the fact that Sports scientists hold, at minimum, an undergraduate honours degree in the field of exercise and sports science (including a significant amount of scientific units), with many sports scientists also acquiring a doctorate or undertaking further study. Further, it is unrealistic to expect an Advanced diploma level course can develop

3 advanced/specialised knowledge as claimed in the course outline, due to the limited time allocated to course delivery. 4. Inappropriate graduate outcomes, beyond professional scope of practice The course outline refers to treatment of athlete injury or medical conditions, through use of terminology such as athlete injury management, manage injuries, appropriate methods of treatment for common musculoskeletal disorders (units AST45, AST15, AST18, AST20, AST31, AST50, AST25, AST54, AST55). ESSA does not support graduates providing exercise programs or interventions as treatment for athlete injury or medical conditions, at any level of sport, as this is beyond their scope of practice. Exercise prescription for the treatment of injury or medical conditions is the role of allied health (such as AEPs or Physiotherapists), or, within a sporting context, Sports Scientists. These professionals undertake many years of university study equipping them with knowledge on pathophysiology and exercise principles that enable them to perform these duties effectively and safely. Health professionals must not only be aware of the many complex interacting factors when providing professional advice to athletes and sporting participants, but must also be able to effectively triage which of the medical conditions and/or injuries need to be prioritised when treating the client - a skill requiring considerable knowledge and skills. Sports therapists must accept the professional liability involved when acting on a referral for a diagnosed medical condition or injury. ESSA contends that the Advanced Diploma does not provide adequate knowledge, skills or training in pathophysiology (and other required areas of study) for a Sports therapist to accept medico-legal responsibility for individuals at moderate-high risk of, or with existing, health conditions and/or injury, and thus places patients at risk. However, ESSA does acknowledge that with appropriate First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training Advanced Diploma Sports Therapy graduates can safely administer first aid to sporting participants, within their scope of practice (unit AST07). ESSA does not support the inclusion of study units regarding hands on or joint mobilisation treatment to be administered by Sport Therapists (units AST09, AST17, AST18, AST31, AST52). Industry best practice and evidence based research identify that this is the role of Physiotherapists or Medical practitioners.

4 ESSA does not support inclusion or reference to dynamic and comprehensive postural and movement assessments and analysis (units AST49, AST51), this focus should be redirected to monitoring correct technique for injury prevention. Sports therapists are not equipped with the knowledge of advanced anatomy and biomechanics that inform movement or postural assessments. 5. Inappropriate use of terminology ESSA requests removal of any reference to Biomechanics (unit AST16), whereby reference to principles of movement may be more appropriate. The concepts of Biomechanics are complex and are often covered in multiple subjects within an exercise and sports science university degree. It is unrealistic to expect these principles could be covered adequately in the limited time allocated to this course. 6. Ensuring appropriate patient screening/referral and compliance with professional scope of practice ESSA acknowledges that effort has been made to comment on appropriate referral and screening throughout this course. However, we request that these concepts (including professional boundaries) are specifically and explicitly stated within units relating to injury. This will ensure the scope and limitations for the unit encompass these crucial principles. Final Point ESSA would like to emphasise that we have only provided some initial feedback regarding the Advanced Diploma of Sports Therapy within this letter, and our association has not been consulted with or actively involved throughout the development of this course. We welcome the opportunity to provide additional feedback to ensure that the most appropriate course is delivered to meet the needs of Australians that participate in sport. Please contact if you require additional information. Kind Regards, Katie Lyndon Senior Industry Development Officer Anita Hobson-Powell Executive Officer References 1. Australian Qualifications Framework 2 nd edition, 2013, Accessed online 16/02/ ISBN

5 (ESSA) is a professional organisation which is committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of university trained exercise and sports science practitioners. ESSA s vision is to achieve member excellence in exercise and sports science that will enrich the health and performance of every Australian. As the peak professional body for exercise and sports science in Australia, ESSA s mission is to empower our members by providing strategic leadership in exercise and sports science through advocacy, support of professional networks and the promotion of excellence in education, research and professional practice. Sports Scientists Sports scientists hold, at minimum, an undergraduate honours degree in the field of exercise and sports science. Many sports scientists have a doctorate and specialise in an area of performance management. They help individual athletes and teams to improve their sporting performance through the use of scientific knowledge, methods and applications in the areas of physiology; biomechanics; psychology; and motor control and motor development. They evaluate research, and they advise on the technical and practical aspects of training, injury prevention, technique, nutritional supplements, performance and recovery practices. Sports scientists work at all levels of sport. Accredited Exercise Physiologists AEPs are federally recognised allied health professionals that specialise in clinical exercise interventions for patients with existing chronic and complex medical conditions or injuries, or those at high-risk of developing these. These interventions are provided by exercise delivery including health and physical activity education, advice and support, and lifestyle modification with a strong focus on achieving behaviour change with the aim of optimising physical function, health and wellness. As part of a multidisciplinary team, AEPs work with clients with a range of medical conditions including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis and obesity. Exercise scientists Exercise Scientists hold an undergraduate degree in the field of exercise and sports science. They specialise in the design, implementation and evaluation of exercise and physical activity for healthy people. They provide programs for improving general health, the prevention of chronic diseases, health promotion and enhanced sports performance. Exercise scientists work in hospitals, community health units, workplaces, gymnasiums and in education.

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