PT 1918 PhotoOctober is National Physical Therapy Month! To celebrate we thought we’d provide some interesting facts on the history, practice, and impact of physical therapy. Keep up with the latest news and trends on our blog at, and follow us on social media.
1.) Many of today’s physical therapy techniques are actually almost 2500 years ago. Hippocrates and later Galenus are believed to be its first practitioners, advocating the use of massage, or manual therapy, and hydrotherapy started in 460 BC.

2.) World War I and the 1916 Polio outbreak, led to a national and international need for rehabilitation to treat disabled soldiers and children. The field provided career opportunities for women at the time, and in 1918 the term “Reconstruction Aide,” was given to those practicing physical therapy.

3.) According to the 2010 US Census, there are about 200,000 physical therapists practicing in the United States.

4.) Physical therapy continues to be a female-dominated career, with about 70% of practitioners in the United States being women.

5.) The American Physical Therapy Association accredits curricula for physical therapists in the United States. Each state regulates the licensing of practitioners for its respective jurisdiction. The most common degree held by physical therapists is a Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT).

6.) There are almost 450 active-duty physical therapists who treat American troops across the three branches of military.

7.) Studies have shown that physical therapy can be as or more effective than surgery to address a range of knee and back conditions.

8.) Most providers in most jurisdictions do not require the patient to receive a MD’s referral for physical therapy.

9.) Advances in physical therapy leverage ancient Oriental medicine and knowledge. Active Release Techniques™ (ART) and dry needling has its origins in acupuncture, developed in China 2,000 years ago. Modern use of needles utilize long-established techniques to treat patients in new ways.

10.) Innovations in technology have provided for new tools to aid in the treatment process. The K-Laser™s a medical class IV therapy laser, first cleared by the FDA in 2005 and can be used in physical therapy settings to promote healing on a cellular level.

American Physical Therapy Association –
Active Release Techniques™ –
K-Laser™ –

Photo Caption/Credits: Reconstruction Aides, who typically learned military drills prior to being transported to overseas US Army hospitals, on July 4, 1918, in New York. Source: American Physical Therapy Association.