Q & A with Sports Certified Specialist Brandy Hirsch

Brandy Hirsch is the only practicing female Sports Certified Specialist in Kentucky and is one of less than 2,000 nationwide. Here’s a little about what a Sports Certified Specialist does and a Q & A with Hirsch.

Sports Certified Specialist: The SCS Board Certifications is granted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)’s American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (ABPTS) and involves a rigorous application and examination process. Only 6.5% of the physical therapists in the United States are Board Certified in a specialty, and less than 2% hold their Sports Certified Specialist certification. The advanced clinical knowledge and skill set that comes with a Board Certification allows therapists to better treat the patients in their specialty and keeps them up-to-date with cutting edge research and technology. The SCS certification concentrates on acute and critical sports injury treatment and sports injury prevention and wellness. Dr. Hirsch is the only practicing female Sports Certified Specialist in Kentucky.

Bio info: I grew up in Topeka, KS and went to Washburn Rural High School. Played many sports….soccer, basketball, volleyball, track. Went on to play division II soccer at Washburn University in Topeka, KS for 2 years. Finished college at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. I worked at D1 Sports Training in Savannah, GA before starting PT school at Bellarmine University in 2012. Pursued a residency with ProRehab through Evidence in Motion and have sports experience training with Fern Creek High School and UofL in their football training room.

1. Why are there so few Sports Certified Specialists in the profession?

As a whole, I think more therapists choose the orthopedic specialization for it’s clinical recognition and applicability. The sports specialty requires 200 hours of sideline coverage experience and Emergency Medical Response certification. Despite the orthopedic base in the sports specialty, it is more of a niche practice.

2. What made you want to be a physical therapist? A Sports Certified Specialist?

I dealt with chronic knee pain my sophomore year of soccer. I was passed around to multiple health care providers without relief. I began to develop low back pain because of the way I was compensating while I ran. I finally was referred to a physical therapist who was extremely thorough and the first person who gave me an answer on what was going on. I was so impressed by the way he assessed how I moved and how specific he was able to be with identifying where the problem was. My knee improved quickly once I started working with him and it really opened my eyes to this profession. I was already studying health, but in that moment, I knew I wanted to be that person for others…the one that gives them hope and truly takes the time to listen. Physical therapy is a great mix of science, problem solving, and creativity.

Because of my love of sports and my own personal experience as an athlete, I have always been drawn to working with that population. I can relate to an athlete’s experience with being injured and it is fun to get people back to such a high level of function.

3. Who has been your biggest role model in terms of growing as a Sports Certified Specialist?

I have had the privilege of working with a lot of great therapists and mentors during my residency. I’ve worked with therapists at the high school and college level in Evansville, Louisville, and all over the country through the Evidence in Motion program. They all gave me different perspectives and pushed me in new ways.

4. What’s the most rewarding part about being a PT?

The most rewarding part of being a PT is the little victories you get to celebrate with your patient. You really spend a lot of one on one time with your patients and get to know them personally. Patients are vulnerable and putting a lot of trust in you as their PT. Getting to help them do the things they value the most in their lives is such a great feeling. I love giving people hope and helping people keep the best quality of life they can.

5. What’s the most challenging part about being a PT?

I think the most challenging thing about being a PT is just how much you have to give both physically and mentally. In this line of work, you really invest in your patients and get to know them. Having others rely on you is such a privilege but also a responsibility. You get out what you put in, which is why this job can also be so rewarding. Ultimately, the work is so worth it because it is the best feeling to know each day you are helping others live their lives to the fullest.