Rehab that meets your sport-specific needs

At UW Health, we understand that staying healthy when competing in a sport or participating in an activity is the key to being your best. When you get injured or need to rehab following surgery, you want to get back to your sport as soon as possible.

Our sports rehabilitation physical therapists and athletic trainers help you prevent injury and return to play. We create a rehabilitation and training plan that rebuilds your strength, mobility and improves your movement control and coordination. We offer sports specific rehabilitation programs as well as programs for tactical athletes (police, fire and military), aging athletes and those recovering from lower extremity injuries like ACL reconstruction.

We help you achieve your rehabilitation goals

Your athletic trainer or physical therapist talks with you about your rehabilitation goals. Your personalized plan includes exercises and therapy to help you:

  • Reduce or eliminate pain

  • Return to your sport

  • Return to an active healthy lifestyle

  • Return to work (professional and tactical athletes)

  • Rehabilitate following surgery or injury

  • Improve joint mobility and muscle flexibility

  • Improve movement control

  • Improve muscle imbalance

  • Prevent injury

Direct Access to sports physical therapy
Sports physical therapy is not only for rehabilitation. Our physical therapists also specialize in evaluating the cause of pain or problems that you are having during your sports participation. You can set up appointments with licensed physical therapists for an evaluation without the need of a physician referral via our Direct Access program.
Research that improves sports injury care
Our sports rehabilitation team works with doctors and scientists to study ways to improve your recovery from sports injuries. We research biomechanics, human movement and how bones and muscles recover. We test new ways to treat sports injuries and maximize athletic performance.

Our programs

Sports rehabilitation tailored to you

At UW Health, we have a large variety of sports rehabilitation programs and treatments to meet your needs.

Our specialty clinics help you recover from injury and excel in your chosen sport or activity. You will get a detailed evaluation and treatment from specialists trained in injury prevention and rehabilitation for competitive and recreational athletes. We offer sports-specific programs to meet the unique needs of different athletes.

Our programs

At UW Health, we have a large variety of sports rehabilitation programs and treatments to meet your needs.

UW Health Sports Rehabilitation designed its Optimize sports injury rehabilitation program for athletes who want to continue their physical therapy and rehabilitation program after their medically-based physical therapy program.

About Optimize

  • Optimize physical therapy appointments are one hour.

  • Appointments are not billable to insurance.

  • The cost for Optimize physical therapy is $199, due prior to the appointment.

  • Credit cards are accepted.

Post-rehabilitation exercise program

The post-rehabilitation exercise program is designed to meet the exercise, strength, speed, agility and endurance needs of athletes returning to sport after injury. This program is for patients who have completed their physical therapy but:

  • Have not achieved all of their personal rehabilitation goals

  • Want ongoing guidance as they continue through their sport season or training

UW Health Sports Rehabilitation assists in “bridging the gap” by providing a guided and structured transition from your rehabilitation program to a safe return to sports and an active lifestyle. Our physical therapists and athletic trainers have medical knowledge and extensive rehabilitation experience. They carefully assess and develop a safe and effective exercise plan specifically for you based on your individual needs.

Lower extremity performance testing

Our lower-extremity performance testing assesses recovery from injury, identifies future injury risks and allows a more detailed performance training plan/program. Tests include:

  • KT1000

  • Y-balance

  • Biodex strength assessment

  • kiio force sensor assessment

  • Force plate jump test

  • Force plate hop test

  • Force plate running

  • Functional hop tests

Upper extremity performance testing  

Upper-extremity performance testing assesses recovery from injury, identifies future injury risks and allows a more detailed performance training plan/program. Tests include

  • Upper extremity Y-balance

  • kiio force sensor assessment

  • Force plate push-up test

  • Functional throwing tests

Athletic physicals/checkups

Athletic physicals are focused orthopedic evaluations that occur once or twice per year assessing your movement and joint concerns. Our physical therapists work with you to determine the best action plan. The plan may involve:

  • Modifications or updates to your exercise and training program

  • A referral to a sports performance, wellness, learning kitchen or spots nutrition program

  • A course of physical therapy

  • A referral to one of our sports medicine physicians or a primary care physician

Request a consultation

UW Health Sports Rehabilitation offers a comprehensive Sports Concussion Rehabilitation Program. Our team, in collaboration with Sports Medicine physicians, evaluates athletes with prolonged concussion symptoms.

About concussions

Concussion refers to a mild traumatic injury to the brain without an associated structural abnormality such as bleeding. It may occur with or without loss of consciousness.

While concussions can occur from direct impact, many occur without any contact to the head. A sudden abrupt stop, such as a fall to the ground or two players running directly into one another without hitting heads, can cause a concussion. 


  • Twenty percent of the estimated 1.7 million head injuries that occur in the United States each year are sports-related

  • In high school athletes, more than 50 percent have reported a history of concussion and more than 33 percent of collegiate athletes have reported a history of multiple concussions

  • Approximately 10 percent of sport-related injuries require hospitalization

  • Those who have had a head injury are two to four times more likely to have another head injury 

  • The majority of concussion patients recover quickly with rest, but as many as 33 percent may have continued symptoms

Post-concussion Syndrome (PCS)

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) can develop after a single injury. Broadly defined, the hallmarks of PCS include prolonged fatigue, headache, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, and difficulty with concentration or memory, as well as intolerance to cardiovascular exercise.

The standard of care for PCS has been to rest, both from physical and cognitive activity, until symptoms are resolved. But recent research suggests rehabilitation as an effective way to address the potentially life-altering consequences of a concussion.

Rehabilitation evaluations

Evaluations include a thorough assessment of the whole athlete, with special consideration given to aerobic exercise tolerance, whiplash-like cervical spine dysfunction and problems with vision and balance. Graded exercise testing combined with a thorough examination can help properly classify the impairments underlying PCS. Since no two patients are identical, classification allows for a refined approach to identifying each patient's specific deficits and can lead to more appropriate treatment.

Treating post-concussion syndrome

Treatment is specific to each patient but often includes elements of closely monitored sub-symptom aerobic exercise, manual therapy and therapeutic exercise for spinal dysfunction, visuomotor retraining and balance impairment. Progressive aerobic exercise has been shown to be safe and effective in improving function in patients with PCS.

Most patients are prescribed an exercise program to be performed five to six days per week, with close monitoring of exercise intensity using a heart rate monitor. Exercise intensity is determined during the evaluation, and maintained at sub-symptom levels. Cervical range-of-motion, eye movement and balance exercises may be prescribed, as well.

As patients make progress, rehabilitation programs are fine-tuned to meet the demands of returning to full function in daily life and sport. Additionally, elements of injury prevention, such as cervical strengthening exercises, are incorporated as individuals return to pre-injury activities.

Request a concussion evaluation

Spectrum is a lower-extremity, group rehabilitation program that combines philosophies of sports training and functional rehabilitation.

Learn more about Spectrum

UW Health Sports Medicine Sports Rehabilitation and UW Health Spine Physical Therapy offer trigger point dry needling as an effective treatment for muscular pain from sport and orthopedic injuries and conditions.

What is trigger point dry needling?

Trigger point dry needling involves the insertion of a thin needle (monofilament) through the skin without the injection of any drug or solution. The movement of the needle deactivates painful trigger points (knots) in muscle tissue, called myofacial pain.

Trigger point dry needling targets nerve and muscle trigger points that are found in a spinal nerve root segmental pattern. The goal of the treatment is to create a mechanical stimulus – a twitch response – from one or more muscles that share the same nerve supply. The twitch response affects the biochemical and biomechanical properties of that muscle. Most people don't feel the needle penetrate the skin during treatment. Once the needle has advanced into the muscle, it responds with an involuntary twitch and/or muscle cramping sensation.

What is trigger point dry needling used for?

Trigger point dry needling can be an effective treatment tool for acute and chronic pain and rehabilitation from injury. Generally patients have few side effects. Common conditions include:

  • Tennis or golfers elbow

  • Muscle strains

  • Upper- and lower-back pain

  • Shoulder pain

Positive results are often apparent within two to four treatment sessions but can vary depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms and overall health of the patient.

Call (608) 263-4765

Sport-specific clinics for advanced rehabilitation

Our specialty clinics help you recover from injury and excel in your chosen sport or activity. You will get a detailed evaluation and treatment from specialists trained in injury prevention and rehabilitation for competitive and recreational athletes. We offer sports-specific programs to meet the unique needs of different athletes.

Athlete Preservation Clinic
The Athlete Preservation Clinic is designed specifically for adult athletes who want to remain active and at the top of their game.
Cyclists Clinic
Whether you are an avid cyclist, recreational rider, triathlete or commuter in Wisconsin, the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Cyclists Clinic is committed to keeping you on the roads and trails.
Dancers Clinic
The repetitive movements performed by dancers requires a unique blend of flexibility with stability, strength and endurance. The UW Health Dancers Clinic offers care for injured and health dancers.
Golfers Clinic
UW Health Golfers Clinic offers a personalized evaluation to develop a custom program that helps you address your unique physical needs as it relates to your golf swing.
Runners Clinic
Whether you have been running for years or are just starting out, our team of professionals will provide you expert treatment for your running-related concerns.
Sports Spondylolysis Clinic
If you've been diagnosed with athletic spondylolysis, our sports rehabilitation experts at UW Health Sports Spondylosis Clinic locations in Madison and Verona, Wis., will help you build strength and flexibility so you can safely return to training and competition.
Strength and Power Clinic
Competitive sports like CrossFit, Olympic lifting and other strength competitions come with injury potential. Our experts work with athletes to help them recover quickly while learning to reduce the risk of future injury event as they complete at a high level in their sport.
Swimmers Clinic
The UW Health Swimmers Clinic uses video-based biomechanical evaluations to address swimming injuries and improve swimming performance.
Tactical Athlete Clinic
Our fire, police and military forces are functional athletes who have a unique set of physical demands required by their line of duty. UW Health's Tactical Athlete Clinic offers specialized treatment to ensure efficient recovery and return to duty as quickly as possible.
Throwers Clinic
Improper throwing mechanics can lead to shoulder and elbow injuries for baseball and softball players. Biomechanical video assessments used in combination with a thorough musculoskeletal evaluation address injury and performance issues.


Sports rehabilitation locations

We offer sports rehabilitation services at UW Health clinics on the east and west side of Madison.

Meet our team

Sports rehabilitation experts by your side

The physical therapists and athletic trainers at UW Health Sports rehab are experts in their field and specialize in specific sports. We understand what it takes to perform in each sport and work with athletes from the start of rehabilitation through return to sport.

Sports rehabilitation physical therapists
Athletic trainers

Patient resources

Patient resources and rehab guidelines

The sports rehabilitation team at UW Health works to get you back to your sport. We provide education and information along with therapy and treatments.

Learn more about our rehabilitation guidelines for injuries to the elbow, hip, knee, leg, shoulder and spine.

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