Physical therapy is defined as “clinical applications in the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal physical function.” Physical therapy’s roots can be traced back to physicians like Hippocrates and Galenus, who treated patients with massage and hydroptherapy. The 1700′s ushered in the development of the field of orthopedics and modern physical therapy was established in Britain in by the end of the 19th century. The field was institutionalized during World War I, when nurses were recruited to rehabilitate injured soldiers, and the first school of physical therapy opened at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. during the following years.
The World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) was founded on September 8, 1951, and celebrates World Physical Therapy Day each year on their founding’s anniversary. World Physical Therapy day signifies a day of unity in the physical therapy community and recognizes the efforts of physical therapists and their member organizations. This year, on the 60th anniversary of WCPT’s founding, the theme for World Physical Therapy Day 2011 is “Movement for Health.” As movement and exercise experts, physical therapists enable patients to reach their maximum movement potential, providing them with many of the instruments vital to the fight against cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer.
Last summer I developed an almost constant aching pain in my right hip. It seemed to become increasingly irritated by walking, exercise, or laying on my side. I let it linger for awhile, hoping it would disappear, before I finally made an appointment with my primary care physician. After ruling out arthritis, my doctor referred me to an orthopedic specialist. This new doctor (who, incidentally, went to JMU at the same time as I did) reviewed a panel of x-rays and performed a physical examination before determining that my pain was probably due to bursitis in my hip. Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac located between a tendon and skin or bone. We discussed an array of treatment options, ranging from simple stretching and physical therapy to cortisone injections, which I considered too extreme for my case. In the end, I decided on physical therapy, attending four appointments over the last month of summer.
One of the things that I found really interesting about physical therapy was the interaction between the therapists and patients. My appointments took place in a gymnasium-type setup at the orthopedic center and at any given time there were four or five patients working through various tasks.