When Did Physical Therapy Start?

DelindaMedina 11 May 2023

Physical therapy has been a part of healing and restoring function since ancient times. From Hippocrates’ writings about using massage and exercise to treat ailments, to the development of hydrotherapy and electrotherapy treatments in the 19th century, physical therapists have come a long way.

In the early 20th century, physical therapists began using more hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, and manual therapy. This was followed by an emphasis on preventive care in the 1950s – helping patients maintain mobility and strength through exercise programs.

By the late 20th century, physical therapists were providing comprehensive care for a variety of conditions including sports injuries, neurological disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, and orthopedic problems. Today they are highly trained professionals who specialize in helping people restore function after an injury or illness.

The treatments used by physical therapists today are varied and include: exercise, manual therapy, education, modalities such as heat/cold, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound. It is clear that physical therapy has evolved significantly over time but its focus remains the same – helping people recover from injury or illness so they can live their best lives.

Tracing the Origins of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is an integral part of healthcare that has been used for centuries to help people heal and restore their mobility. From ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt to modern-day physical therapists, the practice has evolved significantly over time. Per Henrik Ling is credited as being the first modern physical therapist, having developed a form of massage therapy known as “Swedish Massage” in the 19th century.

Today, physical therapy is a recognized medical field that is used to treat a variety of conditions such as musculoskeletal problems, neurological disorders, and chronic pain. In recent years, physical therapists have begun to focus more on preventive care and wellness programs as well as traditional rehabilitative treatments. This shift in focus allows physical therapists to provide comprehensive care with the goal of helping patients live healthier lives.

Have you ever had an injury or disability that was helped through physical therapy? How did it make you feel when you were able to move more freely again? Did your physical therapist provide any tips or exercises for continued health? Share your experience in the comments below!

The Evolution of Physical Therapy in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Physical therapy is an essential medical field that helps people heal and restore their mobility. Over the past two centuries, physical therapy has evolved significantly, and today physical therapists are able to offer a range of treatments that go beyond traditional rehabilitative care. In this blog post, we will take a look at the evolution of physical therapy in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the 19th century, physical therapy was first established as a way to help people recover from physical injuries such as fractures and dislocations. It was also used to treat conditions such as polio, rheumatism, and gout. At this time, manual manipulation and massage were some of the most commonly used techniques.

By the early 20th century, physical therapists had begun to focus more on preventative care rather than treatment. This included exercises designed to strengthen muscles, improve range of motion, and increase flexibility. Other new techniques included hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, ultrasound therapy, and cryotherapy.

As we moved into the late 20th century, physical therapists had developed specialized techniques for treating specific conditions such as sports injuries, spinal cord injuries, and arthritis. This allowed them to provide better care for patients with these conditions by tailoring treatments specifically to their needs.

Today’s physical therapists not only offer traditional rehabilitative treatments but also preventive care and wellness programs that allow patients to stay healthy without having to rely on medication or surgery. The evolution of physical therapy over the past two centuries has enabled us to provide more effective care for our patients while also helping them maintain their health in the long term.

Exploring Modern Physical Therapy Practices

Physical therapy has come a long way since its inception two centuries ago. Today, physical therapists use a variety of techniques to treat musculoskeletal injuries, pain, and other conditions.

Common treatments include manual therapy such as massage and joint mobilization, as well as therapeutic exercises like stretching and strengthening. Physical therapists may also use modalities like taping, bracing, and orthotics to help support the injured area.

In addition to these traditional treatments, modern physical therapy practices incorporate newer techniques such as:

-Aquatic therapy: Exercising in water for improved mobility

-Kinesiotaping: Taping muscles to reduce pain and swelling

-Dry needling: Inserting needles into trigger points to relieve pain

-Biofeedback and relaxation techniques: To help patients manage stress and improve overall wellbeing.

The ultimate goal of modern physical therapy is to reduce pain, improve function, and optimize quality of life for patients. By utilizing a combination of these treatments tailored to the individual’s needs, physical therapists are able to provide more effective care that helps their patients maintain their health in the long term.

Uncovering the Benefits of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has been around for centuries, but it is only in recent years that the benefits of this form of medical treatment have become more widely known. From reducing pain and improving mobility to restoring physical functioning, physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help their patients recover from injury or illness.

The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and improve function for the patient. Here are some of the ways it can do just that:

• Improved range of motion – Physical therapy can help increase flexibility and range of motion which can lead to improved overall performance.

• Increased strength and flexibility – Regular exercise and stretching can help improve muscle strength and flexibility which can reduce risk of injury.

• Improved balance and coordination – Balance exercises can help improve coordination which can reduce falls and injuries.

• Reduced pain levels – Heat/cold therapies and massage techniques can help reduce inflammation which in turn reduces pain levels.

• Improved posture and gait mechanics – Correcting posture through strengthening exercises can help improve overall mechanics when walking or running.

• Enhanced overall fitness levels – A combination of aerobic exercise, stretching, and strengthening exercises can help improve cardiovascular health as well as muscular endurance.

• Improved quality of life – By reducing pain levels, improving mobility, increasing strength, improving balance, etc, physical therapy has been shown to significantly improve quality of life for many people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Whether you’re recovering from an injury or managing a chronic condition, physical therapy may be able to provide relief from your symptoms as well as prevent future issues from occurring.

Types of Physical Therapists and Their Roles

Physical therapy is a medical treatment that helps reduce pain, improve mobility, and restore physical function. Physical therapists are highly trained professionals who specialize in treating a wide variety of conditions. There are six main types of physical therapists who provide specialized care for different needs: orthopedic physical therapy, geriatric physical therapy, neurological physical therapy, pediatric physical therapy, sports physical therapy, and women’s health physical therapy.

Orthopedic physical therapists specialize in the musculoskeletal system and its associated conditions. They treat injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis. These specialists use a variety of treatments to help their patients recover from injuries and regain strength and flexibility.

Geriatric physical therapists focus on providing care to older adults. They work to improve mobility and balance in elderly patients who may be suffering from age-related conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Geriatric PTs use exercises tailored to each patient’s individual needs to help them stay active and independent for as long as possible.

Neurological physical therapists specialize in treating patients with neurological disorders such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. These specialists focus on improving movement control and coordination by strengthening muscles and improving balance through exercise programs tailored to each patient’s individual needs.

Pediatric physical therapists provide care specifically for infants, children and adolescents with developmental delays or disabilities. Their goal is to promote healthy growth and development through exercise programs that help improve motor skills while reducing the risk of future injury or disability.

Sports physical therapists work with athletes of all ages who are recovering from sports injuries or looking to prevent them in the first place. These experts use a variety of techniques including strength training, stretching exercises, massage therapy and more to help athletes improve their performance while reducing the risk of future injury.

women’s health physical therapists provide specialized care specifically for women throughout their lifespan – including pre/post natal care for pregnant women – focusing on issues related to pelvic floor health such as incontinence or pelvic pain syndromes like endometriosis or vulvodynia.

Physical therapists are highly skilled professionals who can help people manage pain and restore mobility through personalized treatment plans based on their specific needs. Whether you’re an athlete looking to prevent injuries or an elderly patient needing assistance with daily activities – there is a type of PT that can help!


Physical therapy has been used for centuries as a way to heal and restore function. Over time, the field of physical therapy has evolved significantly, and today’s physical therapists are focused on preventive care and wellness programs in addition to traditional rehabilitative treatments. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and improve function for the patient.

Physical therapists are highly trained professionals who specialize in creating personalized treatment plans that help patients manage pain, improve mobility, and restore physical function. These plans are tailored to the unique needs of each individual patient, taking into account their medical history and current condition.

Through comprehensive assessments and treatments such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, education, modalities, and more, physical therapists can provide effective care that will not only reduce pain but also help patients maintain their health in the long term.

Physical therapy offers a variety of benefits for those suffering from chronic pain or recovering from an injury or surgery. If you’re looking for a safe and effective way to reduce your pain and improve your mobility, then consider seeking out the help of a qualified physical therapist. With their expertise and personalized approach to care, they can help you get back on track so you can live your life with greater freedom.

Frequently Asked Questions

What year did physical therapy originate?

The year was 435 BC when Hippocrates began recommending hydromassage techniques and manual therapy to treat his patients. This is believed to be the earliest form of what is known today as physical therapy.

Who is the first physical therapy in the US?

Before his departure in 1918 Sanderson met Mary McMillian at Walter Reed General Hospital. McMillian trained in Europe and returned to the United States to become the first physical therapist in the United States.

What were physical therapists first called?

In 1918 the term assisted reconstruction was used for people doing physical therapy. The first physical therapy school was established at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington DC. after the outbreak of World War I. Research Physiotherapy Exercise Catalyst.

What is the oldest PT program in the US?

Pioneers in Physical Therapy Education Northeasterns physical therapy program is the oldest in the United States dating back to before World War I. In 1918 Mrs. Margaret Sanderson organized a World War I emergency course for reconstructive physical therapy assistants at an army hospital.

What did people do before physical therapy?

The main treatment modality is fixation of bed rest isolation and then surgery. The tremendous improvement in medical management and surgical techniques during World War II increased the number of survivors of war injuries.


Hello, my name is Delinda Medina and I am a 30-year-old female with a medical background and nursing experience. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and insights into the medical field, and I have found writing articles about medicine to be an enjoyable and rewarding hobby. Currently residing in Beverly, US, I am excited to continue learning and exploring the ever-evolving world of healthcare while sharing my insights with others.

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