The field of physical therapy encompasses several medical and physical procedures that are used to treat patients who have been injured, are disabled, or those who are suffering from a disease that prevents them from performing daily tasks or maintaining strength. Learning about the history of physical therapy can help you learn more about the nature of these specialized treatments, why physical therapy is still used today, and what types of problems this form of therapy can treat or prevent. Physical therapy is often recommended for patients who are dealing with orthopedic problems, neurological conditions and respiratory issues.

Many people seek out physical therapy as part of a rehabilitation program, or when they want to rebuild their lives after a serious accident where they must use a prosthetic device. Physical therapy history courses are often part of a physical therapy degree program, and can give you some fresh insights and perspectives about this type of medical care.

Physical Therapy: A Historical Account

The history of physical therapy goes back to the 19th century when the field of physical therapy was first recognized in Great Britain. However, the basic techniques and modalities used in modern physical therapy have their roots in the Greek and Roman times. Ancient healing methods and practices including massage, tissue manipulation and exercise were used by the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Persians, Greeks and Romans.

In the Western world, formal training began in the 19th century when orthopedic surgeons began to train graduates of physical-education schools to provide services directly to patients who were visiting doctors' offices, clinics and hospitals. The history of physical therapy in America can be traced to a significant event in history - the epidemic of poliomyelitis in New York and New England in 1916. During this event, young women were responsible for treating patients struck with the disease and helped to restore them back to optimum health. After World War I, the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. was established and it was the first school of its kind in physical therapy history.

The early 1900s are considered to be the first time of year that formal rehabilitation was bought into the hospital environment. Educational standards for physical therapy degree programs have risen since then, and the field is considered to be a well-respected medical profession.

Learning About Physical Therapy History

Most physical therapy degree programs including courses that provide a brief background about physical therapy history and the role of physical therapy in the rehabilitation process. You will learn about the major developments and the pioneers who have led much of the research over the last century. Many of these courses focus on the types of treatments and modalities used to treat patients during the war era and after any major health outbreaks. Physical therapy history courses also touch upon the development of the Physical Therapy Association (PTA), which is now known as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

The field of physical therapy has evolved significantly within the last fifty years, and you'll also learn about the different specializations and branches in the field, the use of technology and computers, and some of the manual therapy techniques that have only recently been adopted by physical therapists and medical practitioners.