Did you Know? 5 Little Known Facts About Physical Therapy

A physical therapist working with a patient on an ankle injury.
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In honor of National Physical Therapy Month (October 2021!!), we wanted to put out a short list of fun facts about the profession. Did you know any of the following?

Physical therapy has its roots in the year 435 B.C.

The Greek philosopher Hippocrates was the first to advocate for therapeutic massage and hydrotherapy as a treatment for physical and medical problems. He was known to have studied anatomy thoroughly in order to administer such treatment.s Later, Aristotle famously claimed that physical exercise is the key to health. Sound familiar?

Physical therapy was officially recognized as a profession during World War I

Physical therapy was officially recognized during World War I, when it became the job of female civilian employees of the Army to rehabilitate wounded or injured soldiers. They primarily used massage techniques and were viewed as physician’s assistants.

Apparently, one of their first challenges was working in skirts – they lobbied Congress for the right to work in uniformed bloomers instead of skirts.

Physical therapists were initially called “reconstruction aides”

The women who worked tirelessly to rehabilitate soldiers during World War I were initially known as reconstruction aides, or re-aides. Led by Marguerite Sanderson, the women officially worked for the Division of Physical Reconstruction.

In 1918, Mary McMillan developed the Physiotherapy Department at Walter Reed General Hospital, a program that was abandoned when the war ended.

The first professional association of physical therapists was started by women in 1921

The first physical therapy association, the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association, was started by Mary McMillan in 1921. McMillan became known as the “mother of physical therapy” and became the organization’s first president.

In the beginning, physical therapy was a women’s-only profession. The organization’s first conference was held in Boston in 1922 and was attended by 63 reconstruction aides. The organization is now known as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) 

Physical therapy saves patients’ money!

You didn’t think we’d neglect to mention this little gem of a fact, did you?

Physical therapy is known as one of the least invasive and best cost-saving medical treatments available to patients. One study showed an average of 72% cost savings in patients with lower back pain! Other studies on the topic have shown similar results, with the average being around half the cost of traditional medical treatments.

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