Physical Therapy Information – Physiotherapy – Origins and Antecedents

Physiotherapy has its origins in the days of Hippocrates. Even in those early days, massages were used as supplementary medical treatments. From those simple beginnings, physiotherapy has evolved into a complex science today.

In 460 B.C. Hector used a treatment known as aqua therapy for physical treatments. Professionals to treat their patients even in today’s advanced age, use the same therapy, modified to suit different requirements.

The first incident of nurses using physiotherapy with the Chartered Society is recorded in 1894. Within two decades of this, several physiotherapy systems were in place in different countries. 1931 saw the setting up of the first physiotherapy clinic in New Zealand, and 1914 was America’s turn to do the same.

Portland Oregon’s Walter Reed College and Hospital was the leading light for professional physiotherapists in America. In those days, they were known as reconstruction aides. Nurses who had received physical education practiced physiotherapy. Several World War I veterans owe their recovery to these reconstruction aides.

In modern history, physiotherapy has been a widely researched subject. The US boasts a comprehensive research study that was carried out and published in 1921. Research in the various specialized fields continues even today.

Mary McMillan formed the Physical Therapy Association in 1921. Now known as the APTA, it remains the most important and influential association in the history of physiotherapy in America.

In 1924, the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation was set up. The main focus of this foundation was the spreading problem of polio. Physiotherapy for polio victims was its main offering. Sister Kinney who is renowned for her work with patients suffering from polio’s devastating after-effects, was a revered figure at Mayo Clinic. Physiotherapy took a major turn at the point of the polio epidemic in history.

Once the polio crisis passed, the popular treatments remained massages, traction and of course, exercises. Chiropractic treatments came to the fore in 1950, and has remained a norm in Great Britain.

Since then, physiotherapy has become a treatment of choice in hospitals as well as other areas. Physiotherapists have been working in places like nursing homes, private clinics and even schools. Around this time, physiotherapy also developed a special line related to Orthopedics.

The International Federation of Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy developed at this time and introduced treatments that changed the face of the physiotherapy profession. One of the physiotherapists who made several important changes was Mariano Rocabado. A Norwegian physiotherapist who is also renowned for his work on the Eastern coast of US is Freddy Kaltenborn. Australian Geoffrey Maitland heavily influenced the methods used in the training of physiotherapists.

Technology became the point in focus in the 80s, when several new techniques using modern technology were invented. These new procedures included ultrasound and electrical stimulation requiring the use of computers. As physiotherapy entered the 1990s, manual therapy came into the limelight with Kaltenborn again pioneering new techniques.

Throughout its history, practice and training methods have been revisited and revised repeatedly. Several practitioners have left behind marks of their brilliance in history through literature and foundations for physiotherapy. Due to the effort of al those involved, today, physiotherapy is a respected and revered profession.