History of Physiotherapy – an Overview

History of Physiotherapy

What is the history of physiotherapy?

Before getting the details of the history of physiotherapy first of all know about the physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy, which is commonly referred to as physical therapy in other countries, is a branch of science that deals primarily with physical medicine and physical rehabilitation. The process involves the use of mechanical movement and force to remedy deficiencies and help promote function, mobility, and quality of life. This is completed through the use of careful evaluation, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and physical intervention. The work is done by physical therapists or physiotherapy.

The practice is generally done in physical therapy clinics, medical centres, and local hospitals. The profession of physical therapy encompasses activities and programs that include consultation, research, education, and administration. Physical therapy services can be performed and carried out in conjunction with or in conjunction with other relevant medical services.

With their title-based healthcare profession, physical therapists use their skills and knowledge to improve a wide range of conditions associated with various parts of the body, including:

  • Neuromusculoskeletal system (sports injuries, back pain), neurological scheme (multiple sclerosis, stroke)
  • Respiratory system (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma)
  • Cardiovascular system (rehabilitation after a heart attack, chronic heart disease) and many others.

Coming to the history of physiotherapy the physicians such as Hippocrates, and later Galen, are supposed to have been the first practitioners of physiotherapy, supporting massage, manual therapy techniques, and hydrotherapy to treat people in 460 BC. C. After the development of orthopaedics in the 18th century, machines such as the Gymnasticon were developed to treat gout and similar diseases by systematically exercising the joints, similar to later developments in physiotherapy.

The initially documented origins of royal physiotherapy as a professional group date back to Per Henrik Ling “Father of Swedish gymnastics”, who founded the Royal Central Gymnastics Institute (RCIG) in 1813 for massage, manipulation and exercise. In 1887, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare gave the official registration to PTs.

Other countries soon followed. In 1894, four nurses from Great Britain formed the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.  The University of Physiotherapy at the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1913, and the United States Reed College in 1914 in Portland, Oregon, who graduated as “reconstruction assistants.”

The research catalyzed the physical therapy movement. The primary research on physical therapy was published in the United States in March 1921 in The PT Review. In the same year, Mary McMillan prearranged the Physical Therapy Association (now called the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Treatment during the 1940s consisted primarily of exercise, massage, and traction. Procedures for manipulating the spine and limb joints began to be practised, especially in British Commonwealth countries, in the early 1950s. Advanced that decade, physical therapists began to move beyond hospital practice, to outpatient orthopaedic clinics, public schools, colleges/universities, geriatric settings, rehabilitation centres, infirmaries and medical centres.

The specialization for physical therapy in the US happened in 1974 when the Orthopedic Section of APTA was formed for those physiotherapists specializing in orthopaedics. In the same year, the International Federation for Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy was shaped, which has played an important role in proceeding manual therapy around the world ever since.

The early history of physiotherapy

According to certain records (pictorial and written) discovered by historians, physiotherapy treatments such as hydrotherapy, therapeutic mails and movements were used in countries like India, China and Greece thousands of years ago.

Around 1000 BC, the Chinese used to perform an exercise called Cong Fu to correct body position and improve breathing. Indians were also known to perform certain forms of exercises and massages to treat arthritis.

Around 500 a. C., in ancient Greece, Herodicus, a Greek doctor, explained the exercises known as Ars Gymnastics or The art of gymnastics that include wrestling, walking and lifting weights to improve certain feverish conditions.

In 460 a. C., Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician traditionally considered the father of medicine, emphasized exercise to improve physical strength. During the same year, in Greece, Hector used hydrotherapy (which means water therapy). Furthermore, Aristotle also recommended that oil messages can alleviate tiredness.

Around 180 a. C., the Romans adopted a form of exercise known as gymnastics to improve physical strength. Later, in the second century, Galen, a famous physician, taught how to perform modern exercises to improve overall strength.

History of physiotherapy (1500 to 1900)

From 1500 to 1700, PT was introduced by promoting exercises and several books were written. An example of this is the Libro del Exercise, written by Jaén and published in Spain.

In 1723, Nicholas Andry, who was a professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris, established the fact that exercise can help build muscles, especially in the arms and legs.

It was in the year 1813, Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish poet, introduced the current PT to the world. He revolutionized the area of ​​PT by introducing exercises, known as Swedish exercises, and his work was popularly known as the Swedish movement.

Later it spread to America and Europe. Ling introduced certain techniques, which were adopted from the Chinese martial arts, known as Tunia. These techniques were later popularly called Swedish massage. In 1860, George H. Taylor introduced these massage techniques to the United States.

Ling’s methods of treating various physical conditions were very effective; but, demanded the need for a gymnast. To overcome this problem, in 1864, Gustav Zander, a Swedish physician, invented exercise machines to help patients perform exercises. In 1894, a group of four nurses from Great Britain formed the Charted Society of Physiotherapy.

History of physiotherapy (1900 to 2000)

In 1913, “The School of Physiotherapy” was established at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and during 1914, Reed College was established in Portland, United States of America, to educate on “reconstitution aides.”

In the early 1950s, PT was only performed in hospitals; however, it was not until the late 1950s that TST was performed outside of hospitals. In 1974, APTA established a specialized division known as the Orthopedic Section for therapists specializing in orthopaedic PT.

In 1974, the “International Alliance of Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy” was recognized.

In 1980, due to the advent of computers in the healthcare industry, devices, such as electrical stimulators, were introduced to perform PT. During the last two decades, an exponential advance in the area of ​​PT and specialized techniques such as cardiopulmonary physiotherapy, neurological and sports skin therapy (recommended by APTA) have revolutionized the area of ​​PT.

Throughout the history of physiotherapy has gained popularity and acceptance. It has become a specialized field that helps countless patients improve various physical conditions.

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