Louis A. Greenwald, PT, has been practicing physical therapy for almost 47 years and has been involved in Sports Physical Therapy in some capacity many of those years.  He graduated in 1968 with a BS in Physical Therapy from Ithaca College /Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  He has had a distinguished career in sports physical therapy serving athletes in the Army, high schools, and colleges for over 45 years.  Louis has been serving as an adjunct instructor or clinical instructor for physical therapy, physical therapy assistant, and athletic training educational programs for over 35 years.  He has been the President of the Iowa Physical Therapy Association (1986-1987), President of the Indiana Physical Therapy Association (1980-1982), Vice President of the Indiana Physical Therapy Association (1978-1980), and also served on the Board of Directors for the American Physical Therapy Association (1982-1985).  Louis served as a delegate to the House of Delegates of the APTA for 13 years.  He was on the committee, in 1982, which revised and published the Standards of Practice for the APTA and also revised the Code of Ethics.  He has been a Certified Clinical Instructor by the APTA for the last 10 years and a speaker at state, national, and local continuing education courses.  He has been instrumental in developing many sports medicine clinics over his 47 years of practice.  He coordinated the sports medicine coverage for the National Figure Skating Championships and the Russian American Track Meet in 1982. 

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Louis has been a tremendous asset and example for the profession of physical therapy and particularly sports physical therapy.  He has been a Sports Section member since its inception and we thought his insight and experience would be valuable for this Sports Physical Therapy Member Spotlight. 


We asked Louis some questions regarding his career and advice he had for younger physical therapists desiring to pursue a career in Sports Physical Therapy. 

1.     What made you want to become a physical therapist?  -  I played all of the sports in high school and was fortunate enough to not have a serious injury.  I was interested in the medical field, was good in the sciences, and I liked the idea of exercise.  The idea of working in the medical community also interested me.  My wife actually suggested physical therapy as a career for me and it’s worked out great!

2.     What interested you in Sports Physical Therapy?– I was in the Army during the Vietnam War as a Physical Therapist.  I saw lots of young soldiers come through basic training with minor and major sports injuries.  At times, these injuries had been totally mismanaged and I realized that I could help them.  I always looked at Sports Physical Therapy as preventative medicine.  I took care of the athletes on the post and loved working with the teams.  When I got out of the Army, and started working with high school athletes, there were no trainers or therapists taking care of young high school athletes.  I started working with these athletes in 1970, and have been taking care of them until today.

3.     How has the Sports Physical Therapy Section impacted your career?– I have been a Sports Section member for a long time.  I have attended many courses put on by the Section and have made many life-long friends in the Section.   I feel a kinship to the Section and its members. I am so thankful for the Section members my age, that helped shape the way the Section is today.

4.     What advice would you give to Physical Therapists early in their career, who are interested in Sports Physical Therapy? - I would tell them to “find a place where they can give not just take.”  I fell in love with high school sports and took care of all my high school teams for free.  It was my hobby, but also my passion. I think that I learned how to treat injuries, when we had no equipment but a bag of ice and our hands.  I was able to get results equal to what we get with all the fancy stuff that we have now.  So….. I would say “Make patient care your passion”. 



5.     Discuss the biggest challenges of your career.   I have worked in areas with lots of intelligent people and I have worked with some coaches who did not know anything about injuries or how to care for them.  One of the biggest challenges is keeping up.  I spend a lot of time reading and trying to get the latest information from resources that I trust.  I have learned from many of the greats and I have also learned much from my patients by listening carefully. One of the biggest challenges, on a daily basis in Sports Physical Therapy, is deciding when it’s safe for the athlete to return to the field.  We will continue to be challenged with this issue, but our decision making is becoming more objective over time.  Even with all of the standardized return to play criteria, “You have to trust your eyes and what you see”.  “Is the athlete ready to return to the field?”