Hello and welcome to October at AxesPT! The leaves have finally begun changing and pumpkin spice is in the air. As we embrace the beginning of fall, Halloween is just around the corner, and we have another reason to celebrate this month – it’s National Physical Therapy Month. Hooray! So, let’s take a moment to honor our dedicated therapists and explore the journey of our profession.
The origins of Physical Therapy can be traced back to the time of Hippocrates, around the mid-5th century BC. Often regarded as the father of medicine, Hippocrates has left an indelible mark on the healthcare field, and we, as physical therapists, owe a part of our heritage to his early practices. Specifically, he pioneered techniques like massage, hydrotherapy (water-based treatment), and manual therapy, which are still integral to modern physical therapy.
Fast-forward to the early 1800s, and physical therapy began to emerge as a recognized professional discipline, with its roots in Sweden. Initially, physical therapists worked closely with high-level gymnasts. By the end of the century, the scope of physical therapy had expanded to other countries. During this period, modern physical therapy as we know it was establishing itself as a legitimate part of healthcare. In 1914, Reed College in Portland started graduating reconstruction aides, whose practices played a crucial role in treating patients during the Polio outbreak in 1916, emphasizing the benefits of physical therapy.
The first School of Physical Therapy was established at Walter Reed Army Hospital after the outbreak of World War I. Over time, physical therapy remained primarily hospital-based, with a focus on treating patients with polio. Many of the treatments developed during this period are still essential in current practice, including exercises, massage, and spinal traction techniques. The 1950s marked a significant milestone with the introduction of the polio vaccine, greatly reducing the incidence of polio infection. Around this time, Physical Therapists began expanding their practice beyond hospitals, reaching into the community. This included independent outpatient settings, schools, and nursing homes.
By the end of the 20th century, Physical Therapy had evolved into its current status, offering numerous specialties and opportunities for continued education. Physical Therapy, and physical therapists themselves, have become an integral part of the healthcare system. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that over 300 million therapy visits are conducted annually. Physical Therapy plays a pivotal role in maintaining your health. So, the next time you visit your physical therapist, don’t forget to wish them a happy Physical Therapy Month.