When I tell people that I’m a swimmer it’s not uncommon for them to think I swim as a form of physical therapy, even when I say that I’m part of a swim team.
While aquatic therapy can be beneficial, and I have taken part in the past that isn’t why I swim.
I swim as an athlete would swim. I show up to practice and swim, basically, the same workout as my able-bodied teammates. While I have gotten stronger, the goal is to make me a better athlete, unlike physical therapy which seeks to treat weaknesses.
I wasn’t involved in sports as a kid, for a few reasons, I wasn’t good in gym class, inclusion in sports wasn’t as popular or accepted as it is not, and I had physical therapy after school.
I don’t blame my parents for not putting me in sports, I wasn’t interested in what was available to me, so I wouldn’t have lasted long anyway. I also wasn’t a kid who could do something every day after school and not loose my mind. I tried it, it didn’t work. Plus, I wasn’t a good student, so I would’ve been kicked off any team based on that, even if I was allowed to be on one.
But times have changed, kids are allowed to at least try being on a team (if they meet the standards) regardless of their abilities/disabilities.
It’s a step, but I see a big drawback.
Parents are using sports as a substitute for physical therapy.
It’s not the case for everyone but that doesn’t mean it probably happens more than it should.
Physical Therapy offers something organized sports doesn’t and vice versa.
One is focused on the individual, increasing function, minimizing deficits, and reaching goals to please bureaucracy.
The other has some similar objectives but it’s more team based while the goals are determined by the individual to measure success.
Both require work, but one is more like a job and the other is more like a social activity (in my opinion).
They are not interchangeable, so they should not be treated as such.
If you treat sports as therapy rather than a fun activity then there’s a chance that a child will see any physical activity as therapy, an unwelcome activity that sets them apart from their peers, they should not be robbed of the opportunity to interact with their peers in a way that only athletics can provide.
Sports should not be seen as another form of therapy, rather they should be seen as what they are activities in which people can find their passions.