Physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy, has been a form of treatment for physical impairments and disabilities for thousands of years. It is considered key in the recovery of patients who suffer from debilitating conditions as a result of accidents or illnesses. Starting as early as the days when Hippocrates was alive, massage was used as a form of therapy to help restore and maintain the bodys movement and functional ability. Hydrotherapy or water therapy was also used to aid in similar developments. These types of treatments and more have evolved through the years into the more complex system physical therapy is today. Today some form of physiotherapy is used in almost all ailments and injuries related to the bones. With its centuries of development and improvements, physiotherapy has become a much needed part of medical treatments which involve these problems. Patients who undergo a form of physical therapy most compatible with their injuries are certain to improve if they continue over time with the therapy.Early UsesThe earliest documented records of the use of physiotherapy were documented in 1813 in Sweden. PerHenrik Ling, considered to be the "Father of Swedish Gymnastics," founded the Royal Central Institute ofGymnastics as a center for massage, manipulation and exercise. By 1887, Sweden officially recognizedphysical therapy and gave the treatment registration in the countrys National Board of Health andWelfare.Other countries followed Swedens example and began to accept physiotherapy as a valid means oftreatment. Four nurses in Great Britain were founders of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in 1894.Other institutions included The School of Physiotherapy at the University of Otago located in NewZealand in 1913 as well as Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 1914. Graduates of these schools werecalled "reconstruction aides," and in the following years this type of therapy became more widely used.Growing RecognitionDuring World War I, physical therapy was used to help the many injured; both soldiers and civilians alike.The treatment was referred to as "rehabilitation therapy" during this time. Most of the reconstruction aideswere nurses who had learned the technique and were educated in physical education as well as massagetherapy.The technique of physical therapy continued to grow in knowledge and popularity, and in 1921, aresearch paper on the subject was published in the United States in what was called "The PT Review."The American Womens Physical Therapeutic Association was also founded at this time by MaryMcMillan, the first physical therapy aide, considered to be the "Mother of Physical Therapy." The nameof her Association was later changed to the American Physical Therapy Association or APTA. Thisorganization defined physical therapy as "clinical applications in the restoration, maintenance andpromotion of optimal physical function."Evolution
As physiotherapy continued to evolve, more research papers were published on the subject. These papersserved as a catalyst for the therapys popularity and subsequent movement towards mainstream use. Itgained support from the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, who termed it as a treatment for polio.During the 1940s, physical therapy came into its own as a rehabilitation technique consisting mainly ofmassage, exercise and traction. In Great Britain, however, it was taken to another level as therapy aidesbegan using manipulative therapy for spine and joint pains in addition to the other treatments. The nextdecade saw the techniques perfected as more patients were involved in therapy.Bringing the Therapy HomeDuring the 1950s, another barrier was crossed. While physiotherapy had only been performed in hospitalsup to this point, doctors and therapists began to see the benefits of using it beyond hospital walls. As aresult, an explosion of locations became available. Physiotherapists could now choose to practice inpublic schools or universities. Medical centers as well as rehabilitation centers could now house therapistswho would perform their treatments onsite. Eventually therapists could visit the patient at home ifnecessary.OrthopedicsAs the world of physiotherapy continued to grow; many doctors began to specialize in this type oftreatment, opening a new world of medicine to many patients. Many doctors and therapists chose to focustheir skills in the area of Orthopedics, studying and manipulating the musculoskeletal system. The APTAformed the Orthopedic Section, a separate division, for doctors and therapists choosing this field, and theInternational Federation of Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy was formed in 1974.Entering the Computer AgeAs computers became more prevalent in the medical world, thefield of physiotherapy evolved even further. The advent of theelectronics age made possible by ever smaller componentsallowed for the introduction of new devices to use in therapy.Electrical stimulators as well as ultrasounds are examples ofsome of the devices that increased effectiveness in treatment.While the field of Orthopedics has continued to grow in effectivetreatments and therapy, another area of specialization has formed.The field of Sports Medicine has developed into an extremelyeffective means of treating injured sports players. With doctorsand therapists treating sports participants whether theyre schoolplayers or the stars of world class games, the techniques ofphysical therapy continue to find patients to heal.Back to Basics?Since the 1990s, more therapists are returning to manualtechniques used in therapy. An unstable world economy as wellas changes in health insurance has brought about adjustments inthe way physiotherapy is used. As government health care regulations continue to be updated andchanged, expenses involved have come under close scrutiny. Expenditures must be justified, resulting in anew approach to rehabilitation. Physiotherapists such as Freddy Kaltenborn of Norway and Geoffrey
Maitland of Australia advocate Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy with an emphasis on training as analternative form of therapy.The new millennium has introduced a global community that can utilize the best education and machinesto help physiotherapy continue to evolve. This field will continue to grow and improve as it meets theworlds therapy needs.
CBI Health Group - Physiotherapy Centres provides access and convenience throughtheir many physiotherapy clinics across Canada.