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A Brief History of the Profession of Physical Therapy

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1 A Brief History of the Profession of Physical Therapy

2 Across the ages

3 Influences in the early 20th century
War Epidemics Polio – NYC, England Accidents

4 Nurses/selected phys ed graduates recruited to assist with polio epidemic

5 Pioneer of the Profession
Mary McMillan Grad work in physical culture and corrective exercises, which included Swedish gymnastics

6 Mary McMillan Worked in hospitals in England with the war wounded, developmental disabilities Returned to U.S. in 1915 and became director of massage and medical gymnastics at Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine

7 World War I 1917, WWI Surgeon General of U.S. Army anticipated a need for a formal “reconstruction” program for injured soldiers Established the Army’s Division of Special Hospital and Physical Reconstruction Charged with development of education programs to prepare “reconstruction aides”

8 Early physical therapists
Early recruits into what would become the profession of physical therapy were primarily women with physical education degrees

9 World War I At Walter Reed General Hospital, organized units of Reconstruction Aide Corp, which were to be sent overseas

10 1917-1918 Reconstruction Aides 14 education programs 2000 graduates
800 in service 300 overseas

11 Training in anatomy

12 Educational programs

13 Reconstruction Aides

14 After WWI McMillan was the superintendent in U.S.S.G.’s office over training programs 86,000 returning veterans received care from reconstruction aides on their return to the U.S. (1919 Fort Sam Houston)

15 Getting organized As Reconstruction Aides scattered to civilian positions, Mary McMillan proposed the establishment of a national association to preserve the role of physical therapists

16 Getting organized Invited to form the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association

17 AWPTA First organizational meeting was held in 1921
Acknowledged the need for recognition of their work 274 members in their first year (vs. >70,000) Mary McMillan first president “The purpose of the association shall be to establish and maintain a professional and scientific standard for those engaged in the profession of physical therapeutics.” Association history parallels profession history

18 PT REVIEW Two months after the association’s founding the PT REVIEW was in print, and has been published continuously (now Physical Therapy)

19 First annual convention 1922, Boston
Treatment for patients with infantile paralysis Posture training Physiotherapy and its relation to industrial accidents

20 1928 Standards for PT education 6 schools approved
AMA asked to assist with accreditation in 1936

21 Training/credentialing
First bachelor’s degree at NYU in 1927 1935, the American Medical Association established the American Registry for physical therapists who pass a qualifying exam

22 Poliomyelitis epidemic
National Infantile Paralysis Association contributed much money to start up additional schools and training programs (New England 1916)

23 National Infantile Paralysis Association

24 1922-1941 Few job opportunities 1941, WWII declared
Fewer than 1200 PT’s Emergency educational programs established in Army hospitals and civilian schools 1600 PT’s served in WWII


26 1947 “American Physical Therapy Association”
1958, 38 educational institutions, BS or certificate programs

27 Influential women

28 Physical Therapy in the 1950’s

29 Development of roles and skills

30 Milestones 1960, first master’s degree, at Case Western Reserve
1983, CAPTE sole accrediting agency 1984, Diagnosis by PT’s 1985, Board certification 1985, Entry point into health care 1993, first DPT

31 First DPT Class at Chatham College May 2005

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