03 Dec The History of Physical Therapy
October is Physical Therapy Month! This is a time to reflect and recognize the life changing effects physical therapy can have on people’s’ lives. If you’ve ever had surgery or were injured, you’ve probably seen first hand what a difference the right treatment plan can make, but have you ever wondered where physical therapy began? In honor of Physical Therapy Month, we would like to take a look at our roots and look at how far we have come. We hope you will enjoy this journey through history with us.
Hippocrates was believed to be the first physical therapist who advocated for using massage and hydrotherapy to cure his patients in 460 BC.
In 1884, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy was formed by four British nurses.
In 1917, many injured World War I soldiers benefitted from what was then called “rehabilitation therapy.” The industry grew and nurses with training in physical education and massage therapy called “reconstruction aids” were sent to treat the injured soldiers.
The American Physical Therapy Association (at the time called the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association) was founded by by Mary McMillanin 1921. McMillanin was a physical therapy aide and later became known as ”the mother of physical therapy.”
In 1924,the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation suggested that physical therapy be used in the treatment of polio. One of their polio patients was President F.D.Roosevelt who spent a lot of time in Warm Springs.
In the 1940’s, massage and exercise became physiotherapy staples.
In the 1960s, APTA membership reached almost 15,000, and the number of education programs nationwide grew to 52.
Doctors continued to treat people with physical therapy but did not begin specializing in physical therapy until 1974.
Today there are over 204,000 licensed physical therapist in the United States and physical therapy has been listed as one of fastest growing jobs in America.