Physical therapy

  • 3000 BCE

    Ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations show early signs of some physical therapy techniques used today

    Movement therapy/physical therapy is thought to have originated in Asia. One of the earliest movement therapy recorded is Cong-Fu.
  • 500 BCE

    Other civilizations hop on the trend

    A Greek physician was prescribing patients with movement therapy and exercises in order to treat disease and pain. The Roman empire also used similar techniques to rehabilitate wounded soldiers.
  • Sweden: Trail Blazers

    In the 18th century, modern-day practices began to emerge. Sweden supported the use of physical movement and in 1887 Sweden’s National Board of Health and Wealthfare recognized it as a feasible health practice.
  • Welcome to America

    In 1918 women from Reed College worked with wounded WW1 soldiers using massage and exercise therapy.
  • American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association

    After the woman had success with the rehabilitation treatment of wounded soldiers Mary McMillan and most of her associates founded the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association in 1921.
  • NYU- The Place for You

    The American Physical Therapy Association advocated for increased education for physical therapists. New York University was the first to launch a four-year bachelor of science program in response.
  • First Code of Ethics

    The first code of ethics and discipline was released. Basically setting guidelines for physician diagnosis, performing the treatment, prohibiting the use of patients as advertisement, and expectations regarding professionalism.
  • The Hub

    The first official headquarters were established in New York City, where the original organization was founded.
  • Name change

    The American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association name was changed to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to reflect a more inclusive name.
  • Muscle Madness

    During the polio epidemic, Florence P. and Henry O. Kendal began researching muscles and function. They believed they could not help those affected by polio without adequately understanding what polio was affecting. This lead to the publication of “Muscles Testing and Function.”
  • Licence Protocol

    In the 1950s therapist had to test their knowledge of clinical science and therapy procedure. Today graduates of accredited programs must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination as well as exams from the Federation of State Boards for Physical Therapy.
  • Education continues

    In 2016 it became mandatory that all entry-level physical therapists obtained a doctorate in Physical Therapy. Furthermore in order to keep licenses up to date they must complete education classes each year.
  • New Year Resolution?

    The APTA board of directors wanted to provide a new mission statement that encapsulated an end goal and reflected the association's ideals.
    “Building a community that advances the profession of physical therapy to improve the health of society” However, the reformed vision statement of 2013 is my personal favorite...
    “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Both are wholesome though :)
  • Sources

    100 milestones of physical therapy. APTA Centennial. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2023, from Lisowski, N. (2021, June 17). The history of physical therapy: From Ancient Times to present day. PTProgress. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from