In honor of physical therapy month here are some physical therapy fun facts that you may not have been aware of.
Did you know?:
Physical therapy as a profession actually originated during World War I in response to the need created when our soldiers were injured in war.
The first physical therapists during World War I were actually called “reconstruction aides”.
Poliomyelitis was rampant during the 1920’s and 30’s and physical therapists became one of the predominant groups treating these patients bringing the profession more to the forefront. In response to this physical therapists decided to form a professional organization and it was called the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association.
The field of physical therapy was initially a female dominant profession and the first president of the American Women’s Physical Therapy Association was Mary McMillan.
When World War II occurred, due to the advances in science and technology more injured soldiers were surviving and their various musculoskeletal injuries were treated by physical therapists. As the 1930s ended the profession changed its name from the American Women’s Physical Therapy Association to the American Physiotherapy Association.
In the late 1940’s the professional organization that represented physical therapists once again changed its name to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) which is still our representing body to this day.
As healthcare continued to progress and advance physical therapy eventually became recognized as a profession that went beyond treating injured soldiers and today physical therapists have specializations in various things from neurology, sports medicine, cardiopulmonary, orthopedics, pediatrics, women’s health, vestibular, and geriatrics just to name a few.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s as the demand for physical therapy increased and schools were unable to turn out physical therapists fast enough, the physical therapy assistant role was born. Therapists had been utilizing aides but needed help from somebody with a more technical background in the ways of physical therapy and thus the profession advanced. A physical therapy assistant helps the physical therapist in the treatment of patients but does not perform evaluation techniques.
When physical therapy originally became recognized as a profession one required a bachelor’s degree to practice. In the 1990s programs transitioned to a Master’s of Science degree and now in the 21st century the profession has advanced again and is now at a doctoral level. To become a physical therapy assistant, an associates degree is required.
According to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy education there are currently 228 accredited physical therapy programs and 333 accredited physical therapy assistant programs.
Today the profession has become integrated with both men and women providing physical therapy services to meet your musculoskeletal and movement needs with the aim of minimizing dysfunction and impairment.
Do you have any other fun facts about physical therapy? If so, take a moment to share them below. If you have had physical therapy and it had a positive impact on you take a second to honor your therapist below by sharing your unique experience in celebration of physical therapy month and the real lives that are changed or helped by physical therapy everyday.
If you would like more in depth information about the history of physical therapy click on the links below to learn more and thanks to these sites for providing the basis of our fun facts!
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