The History of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is pretty common in the medical world, and it’s a term commonly used injured athletes, doctors, and people who are the actual therapists to cover treatments that boost recovery after an injury or overworked muscle. But physical therapy wasn’t always as common as it is today, and the origin of this helpful medical practice is well worth looking into.

Two major world events kick-started the need for physical therapists: the polio epidemic, and the First World War. And both of these crises would test the growing PT field in new ways.

Treating Polio

Polio is a disease that causes paralysis and muscle weakness in the body, and it was perfect for some of the new PT techniques doctors were experimenting with. They began testing the strength of muscles, coming up with a procedure to figure out how strong a muscle was and then retraining the weaker muscles to restore their strength.

As polio continued to ravage the world, physical therapy was recognized by the medical community, and it began to grow as the public saw them as true heroes in the fight against polio.

World Wars 1 and 2

As the First World War began to intensify and more soldiers were sent to the front lines, the U.S army saw the need to provide medical support for their troops. One of these medical professions was rehabilitation, where physical therapy played a large role.

When World War 2 started several years later, then injured soldiers were often sent to physical therapists on their return home. Around this time, physical therapists were starting to find that electronic equipment could help them strengthen muscles. They soon changed their job from simply stopping muscles from getting weaker, to helping them regain their former levels of strength.

Post War PT

Once the war ended, the training for new physical therapists declined, and it wasn’t until the 1950s when physical therapists began fighting to become their own medical branch. Soon a standardized test was created and more PT’s were being trained and allowed to operate independently.

They also served in army hospitals in Korea and Vietnam, and that was what really made them popular. Now in the 21st century, they are mostly used for rehabilitation after an injury, as well as doctors who consult on movements.

Physical Therapists Now

It’s common for many people to go see physical therapists after injuries or overexertion of a muscle. So, if you have a tricep injury, then you’d get it treated by a doctor. Then you’d see a physical therapist to get your triceps moving again and get them used to moving normally. They’d use small exercises to gradually restore your full range of movement, and as you completed them, you’d eventually get your full range back

You’ll probably see, or might even have seen, a physical therapist in your life. They’ve been around for years, and whether they help soldiers or civilians, they’ll restore your range of motion and get you moving again.