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The history of physical therapy


The history of physical therapy ➣


Physical Therapy (or physiotherapy as it was originally called) has a history dating as far back as ancient Greece. The Greek physician Hippocrates advocated massage and hydrotherapy to help heal patients and writings from ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Persian societies also touted the benefits of massage and exercise of the joints to reduce pain and promote healing. However, what we would consider modern physical therapy techniques have a much more recent history.

1. The earliest example of professionals specifically trained in techniques of the message, exercise, and manipulation was a Swedish group founded in 1813 to work with gymnasts. Reflecting this origin, the Swedish word for Physical Therapist is “suk gymnast” which translates as “sick gymnast.” In the late 1800s, specially trained nurses in England formed a group, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, that focused on physical therapy techniques known to be beneficial to patients and began training others. Other groups and schools soon opened around the world, with the demand for physical therapy driven rapidly by world events.
2. For example, polio epidemics in the first half of the twentieth century created a great need for physical therapists to assist those crippled by the virus to become more mobile and independent. The disease left many patients with muscle atrophy and poor flexibility, requiring intensive physical therapy treatments. In 1927, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who would later become President of the United States founded the Georgia Warm Springs Institution. Roosevelt had been stricken with polio earlier in his life and found that swimming in the warm waters helped strengthen his muscles, which had been weakened from the disease. The institute treats thousands of patients annually and still exists today as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.
3. World Wars I and II left many with devastating injuries and needing rehabilitation. In the United States, the US military was instrumental in establishing the importance of physical therapy degree training programs as they faced the need to care for the 200,000 troops returning home with injuries sustained in the First World War. Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center was among the first to train these “Reconstruction Aides,” as the first physical therapists were called. The American Physical Therapy Association (originally called the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association) was formed in 1921 with 274 charter members. Men were later admitted and the number of members swelled to nearly 1,000 by 1940. Demand for physical therapists grew tremendously with polio outbreaks and the Second World War and by the 1960s, there were more than 15,000 members. Today the association is composed of more than 74,000 members and approximately 200 institutions offer physical therapy degree training programs.

Physical Therapy Associations and Journals ➣

Most people with a physical therapy degree belong to one or more professional societies. The largest is the nation-wide American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) whose membership includes both physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. There are numerous state and local organizations as well, such as the New York Physical Therapy Association and the Illinois Physical Therapy Association. In addition, the APTA has many specialty associations that focus on a more specific aspect of physical therapy interests. The Geriatrics Section and the Sports Physical Therapy Section are just two examples of specialty sections within the APTA that have their own membership, publications, officers, and meetings. Besides the APTA, there are other professional organizations that physical therapists and physical therapy assistants sometimes join. For example, the National Rehabilitation Association brings together members from physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and other professions.

There are many reasons for joining a professional association. One of the most important is that it is a good way to stay up-to-date on current trends, treatments, research, and issues facing the profession. Organizations like the APTA publish research journals, and a subscription to the journal is often included as part of the membership fee. For example, the Physical Therapy Journal is the official publication of the APTA. These peer-reviewed journals feature research on new methodologies, evolving thought on treatment effectiveness, word on changes in administrative procedures and licensure requirements, and other topical issues important to the field. These organizations also typically have meetings at least annually; these are good places not only to network but also to attend many courses or seminars that qualify for continuing education credits. The meetings also provide a chance to hear about the latest research and thoughts from leaders in the field. Another perk is that members of the association typically may register for meetings and courses at substantially discounted rates.
Networking is another good reason to join a professional association. By keeping in contact with other members, one can often hear about job opportunities or find the perfect candidate for an opening. Many organizations even maintain job posting websites.

Besides journal publications, professional organizations are also a valuable resource for other information. Websites and newsletters often announce changes in the field, summarize the latest research, and provide information on various occupational topics. The APTA also publishes a Guide to Physical Therapist Practice is a comprehensive guide to current best approaches for treating various conditions. Many of the publications and other resources are free or greatly discounted for members or available only to members.
Professional organizations also provide advocacy for the occupation. They stay current on issues important to the profession and advocate for the benefit of the members, for example by lobbying Congress on healthcare reform bills and increasing Medicare payments for physical therapy. The APTA also performs a public relations and marketing role, making the public aware of the role physical therapy can play in improving health and life. Professional organizations promote career development, not only through continuing education but also through leadership development. Members have the opportunity to serve on committees or in leadership roles that affect policy, education, and future development of the profession. Finally, some organizations offer scholarships, financial aid, and grants to members on a competitive basis.

The history of physical therapy The history of physical therapy Reviewed by swapee dee on April 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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