Updated: Sep 21, 2022
October is National Physical Therapy month, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a series of informative articles on physical therapy- what is it, how long has it been around, who can benefit from it, etc. It only makes sense, that the first in this series should go back to the beginning of physical therapy to provide a brief history of how we got to where we are today!
The basic philosophy of physical therapy can be traced back as far as Ancient Greece as early as 460 BC when Hippocrates introduced the idea of manual manipulations for pain relief. Also during this time, Hector began promoting the practice of hydrotherapy which originally used the pressure and temperature of water to decrease a patient’s symptoms.
Fast forward to the early 1800s in Sweden. A man named Per Henrik Ling noticed improvements in his symptoms of gout when he learned to fence. He believed that the exercise is what helped him recover. He went through the full curriculum of training to become a medical doctor, then in 1813 he founded the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics for massage, manipulation, and exercise. Many years later, in 1887, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare gave physical therapists in Sweden official registration.
The first official programs to train physical therapists at the collegiate level came about in the early 1900’s. The School of Physiotherapy at the University of Otago in New Zealand was the first, starting its program in 1913