Like many of my fellow PTs, I was introduced to physical therapy as a patient. Growing up, I played a variety of sports and was fortunate enough to stay relatively injury free. The summer before my sophomore year of high school, I sustained an injury and spent two afternoons a week in a physical therapy clinic. While working to rehab from my injury, I had a front row seat to how the involvement of a physical therapist can help restore movement, empower engagement and ownership in the recovery process and promote a return to meaningful activities. I am grateful not only for their help in getting me back out on the field, but also for introducing me to my future profession.
October is National Physical Therapy Month and we take this time each year to celebrate and raise awareness for the field of physical therapy. This year is a special year as the American Physical Therapy Association is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the association. In 1921, a group of women who shared the same goal of rehabilitating World Word I soldiers came together to form what was then the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association. They wanted to ensure that restoration aides, the predecessor to physical therapists, continued to be a valuable member of the medical community. Over the past hundred years, the association has not only changed its name a few times, but has also adapted to meet the rehabilitation needs of Americans. And while our profession may have started in response to wartime injuries, physical therapists have answered the call to assist in restoring mobility to patients affected by polio, provide services to children in schools under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (now IDEA) and even now as we care for those affected by COVID-19 whether in person or through telehealth.
Part of the centennial celebration includes emphasizing service as a pillar of our profession. On September 22, APTA kicked off its “100 Days of Service” initiative to give back to our communities and raise awareness for the physical therapy profession. For the last 100 days of 2021, APTA is encouraging physical therapists to participate in acts of service. APTA specifically collaborated with Special Olympics, Go Baby Go and Move Together to create toolkits that outline ways to get involved. You can find more information here: Serve: Ways to Give Back in 2021 – APTA Centennial. At the upcoming ASHT Annual Meeting, you can participate in “Share the gLOVEs” by bringing new winter or waterproof/windproof gloves to donate to the Peter & Paul Community Services in St. Louis. Just as the first restorations aides did one hundred years ago, look around to see where you can respond to the needs in your community.