Physical Therapy Then and Now

PhysicalTherapy is a practice that has been around longer than most people think. In fact, ancient history depicts sports therapy type treatment and exercising as an injury preventive measure going as far back as the times of gladiators. Since then, physicaltherapy is a broad term that encompases many specialized practices. Long before physical therapy was split up into divisions like sports therapy and geriatric therapy, it was barely recognized medically. The earliest documented case of physicaltherapy as a professional group, however, dates back to the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics in 1813. Per Henrik Ling, known as “the Father of Swedish Gymnastics,” used massage, manipulation, and exercise to heal and prevent injuries among gymnasts. Sweden, a pioneering country for physicaltherapy, granted physical therapists official registration by their National Board of Health and Welfare in 1887. Since then, physicaltherapy has been embraced globally as a viable means of rehabilitating physical impairments caused by injury. There are now many branches of physicaltherapy such as geriatric, orthopedic, and athletic physicaltherapy to name a few. Homepage

While Sweden took the first big step for physicaltherapy, the next major move for the practice was not until the end of the 19th century. Britain modernized the practice, and American orthopedic surgeons soon followed suit. They began treating children with physical disabilities, and training women in physical education, massage, and exercises techniques. Physicaltherapy played a large role in World War I. Women were recruited to use their expertise in physicaltherapy to treat wounded soldiers who needed aid in restoring physical function after injury. World War I inspired the first school of physicaltherapy as well. It was called the Walter Reed Army Hospital, and trained people in what they called “reconstruction aide.”

Nowadays, the newest division of physicaltherapy is sports rehabilitation. Sports, especially in America, are such a huge part of the culture that the need for a specialized form of therapy to prevent and aid in sports related injuries has been brought to the forefront. Sports therapy is still developing and growing in popularity, but it has already become widely accepted as an effective form of rehabilitating muscular and joint impairments from traumatic injuries. Innovative surgeries and exercising techniques have athletes returning from injuries that used to be career ending affairs. With sports therapy, athletes can now have confidence that they will return to their sports at a high level, even after suffering from ACL injuries or Tommy John Surgery.

Sports therapy has become such a popular form of physicaltherapy that most major sports teams have their own therapists that travel with the team. But sports therapy is not only for injured athletes. People of all ages and physical ability have benefited from the healing qualities of sports therapy. In fact, some techniques used in sports therapy heal more than just the body. Recently, sports therapy has incorporated pain relieving techniques to cater to the mental stability of recovering athletes. When combined with prescribed exercise at sports therapy sessions, athletes and nonathletes alike have been found to heal even faster.