With roots as far back as 3000 B.C., physical therapy came to the U.S. in the early 1900’s as a profession started and practiced largely by women. In 1918 Mary McMillan, an American trained in England in the early 1900’s, was appointed to the Reconstruction Aide Program at Walter Reed General Hospital. With polio ravaging bodies of U.S. citizens combined with soldiers returning from WWI wounded and debilitated, the United States was ripe for the profession of Physical Therapy to take hold. Since those early humble beginnings, the profession has innovated and matured along with our prospering industrialized culture. An increased need for physical therapists emerged due to the polio epidemic and the onset of World War II and accelerated advancements within the profession.
In 1947 the Hill-Burton Act required physical therapy departments be included in the rapidly expanding construction of hospitals. These early hospitals saw the earliest uses of physical therapy treatments such as hydrotherapy and muscle specific stretching combined with targeted strengthening exercises to assist those suffering from polio and to combat related injury in a period known as the “muscular era.” As the physical therapists continued to expand their knowledge base they entered into the “Neurological Era” discovering the usefulness of suppressing reflexes and retraining the central nervous system to improve function in patients.
The “Joint Era” was next for Physical Therapists. The role of the muscular system and the neurological system was studied and the ability to affect the joints became an important component to private practitioners that were rapidly expanding their practices to assist Americans with a variety of musculoskeletal ailments such as lower back and neck pain along with the rehabilitation of workers and athletes recovering from new and advanced orthopedic surgery. More recently Physical Therapy has marched into the “Movement Era” with an emphasis on biomechanics and how people move. Physical Therapists with their ability to evaluate, assess and treat human movement are now able to practice a unique and effective professional skill utilizing components from all previous eras.
Combining their knowledge base with new found technology such as bioelectric prosthetics and advanced human performance concepts, physical therapist are able to assist individuals from all walks of life. Connecticut Orthopedic Rehabilitation Associates is proud to stay on the cutting edge of rehabilitation concepts, equipment and training.