Army Physical Therapy -- A Proud History and Integral Force in Neuromusculoskeletal Care and Readine
October 22, 2013
by Capt. Paul Mochmer, PA-C
The long and proud tradition of physical therapy in the United States was born out of necessity to meet the needs of American service members injured during World War I. The Army Medical Department recognized the need for a formalized physical therapy course of instruction in the early 1920s. This fall, the Army celebrates over 90 years of formal military physical therapy education and rehabilitative care for Department of Defense beneficiaries.1
Army Physical Therapists were commissioned in 1942 and have served in every theater of operation since World War II. The roles and assignments for Army Physical Therapists have greatly expanded over the past 70 years. In Vietnam, physical therapists served in a physician extender role to assist with the evaluation and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Additionally, Army Physical Therapists were first assigned to Army Ranger Battalions in 2000, Special Operations Groups in 2003, and more recently with Brigade Combat Teams in 2006. Physical therapists serving in these roles have made significant contributions to operational readiness by providing an integrative approach of direct access, early intervention, and injury prevention and human performance optimization.1
Currently, Army civilians, officers, and enlisted members provide physical therapy care to over 5,000 beneficiaries across the globe and in diverse settings on a daily basis. This care includes evidence-based neuromusculoskeletal evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic injuries, functional and disability assessment, injury prevention screening, health promotion activities, and intensive rehabilitative care for post surgical and polytrauma patients. Physical therapy is essential to our current transformation to a System For Health. As we call upon our beneficiaries to increase activity, physical therapy will serve a vital role in maintaining, restoring, and improving the health of our service members and their families.
If you are interested in a career as a military PT, the US Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy is one of the oldest and most recognized programs in the nation. The program is currently ranked 5th in the nation from over 200 nationally accredited programs. For additional information regarding a career in physical therapy and for information on the program, please visit: http://www.baylor.edu/graduate/pt/.
1: Moore JH, Goffar SL, Teyhen DS, Pendergrass TL, Childs JD, Ficke JR. The role of U.S. military physical therapists during recent combat campaigns. Phys Ther.2013 Sep;93(9):1268-75.