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100 Milestones of Physical Therapy

1921
1921

APTA’s founders meet at Keens Chophouse in New York City.

APTA’s founders meet at Keens Chophouse in New York City.

APTA’s founders met at Keens Chophouse in New York City. The participants decided to create an association with the name American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association. Dues were established at $2.

1921

Mary McMillan Is Elected the First President of the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association.

Mary McMillan Is Elected the First President of the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association.

World War I had just ended. Throughout the war, reconstruction aides, the predecessors to modern physical therapists, worked tirelessly to do their part, treating the many casualties of war and getting soldiers back on their feet. These strong women had proven their value as medical professionals – war heroes –..Read More

1921

The Association’s Journal, P.T. Review, Debuts.

The association’s journal, P.T. Review, debuted in 1921. The issue was held in production awaiting election results for the new officers and executive committee. Mary McMillan was elected president. Free to members, annual subscriptions to the quarterly publication were available to the public for $1. The journal’s name eventually evolved..Read More

1922
1922

The AWPTA Becomes the American Physiotherapy Association.

The AWPTA Becomes the American Physiotherapy Association.

The AWPTA had closed out its first year, which was a busy one. The members were planning for their first annual convention that summer. They also were seeking official recognition from the American Medical Association, were working to lay a strong foundation for the profession, and emphasizing the need to..Read More

1922

First Annual Conference Held in Boston.

First Annual Conference Held in Boston.

The association’s first annual conference was held in Boston, September 13-16, at the Boston School of Physical Education. Sixty-three reconstruction aides attended. The association’s name was changed to American Physiotherapy Association to be more inclusive.

1926
1926

P.T. Review Changes the Name to Physiotherapy Review.

P.T. Review Changes the Name to Physiotherapy Review.

In 1926 Gertrude Beard was elected president of APA. Under her leadership, APA saw much change. Significantly, she was the first president who had not served as a reconstruction aide. With her election came a shift in association leadership from the east coast, where it had traditionally been concentrated, to..Read More

1926

Franklin D. Roosevelt Establishes the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Establishes the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921. In 1926, Roosevelt was introduced to Alice Lou Plastridge. She was an experienced physical therapist in the field of polio and had been successfully treating him when he began visiting Warm Springs, Georgia, to swim in the thermal spring waters there after hearing..Read More

1927
1927

NYU Creates Bachelor of Science Program for Physical Therapists.

As the profession continued to grow and APA continued to advocate for stronger standards and increased education, the New York University became the first to launch a full, four-year bachelor of science program for physical therapists. Graduates now earned a BS degree, raising the level of education available and with..Read More

1928
1928

Standards for Accreditation Are Developed.

Ever focused on improving the profession and recognizing the importance of standardization in order to do so, APA developed the first standards for accreditation, with guidance of John Stanley Coulter. Most accredited institutions then were hospital-based and awarded postbaccalaureate certificates.

1935
1935

APA Adopts a “Code of Ethics and Discipline.”

APA Adopts a “Code of Ethics and Discipline.”

Following closely on the heels of establishing an outside registry came APA’s first Code of Ethics and Discipline, adopted at its annual conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This code not only expanded on the primacy of the physician’s diagnosis and prescription in carrying out physical therapy treatments, but it..Read More

1935

The American Registry for Physical Therapy Technicians Is Created.

The American Registry for Physical Therapy Technicians Is Created.

One issue that kept nagging at APA leaders was concern about the credentialing process. After a few failed attempts to address it, a viable solution came along. In 1935, under the guidance of John Coulter, author of the Minimum Standard for a Physical Therapy Department of a General Hospital, the..Read More

1940
1940

A Major Shift in Educational Programs Occurs.

In 1940 the majority of physical therapy educational programs shifted from the hospital to the university setting. This marked the start of an important new trend in physical therapist education.

1940

Catherine Worthingham Becomes Wartime President of APA.

Catherine Worthingham

Catherine Worthingham, a noted Stanford educator, became the association’s two-term president during World War II. She served an unprecedented five years as president from 1940 through 1944 at the request of the executive committee, which felt that the war years were no time to install new, inexperienced officers. Worthingham was..Read More

1941
1941

First Special Interest Sections Meet at Annual Conference.

The first special interest sections met at the association’s annual conference in Palo Alto, California.

1941

PTs Contribute During World War II.

In the summer of 1941, six months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Emma Vogel — who began her Army career as a reconstruction aide, was trained by Mary McMillan at Reed College in Oregon, and was a founding figure in the physical therapy profession — initiated the first War..Read More

1941

The First Physical Therapy CE Programs Are Held.

The First Physical Therapy CE Programs Are Held.

APA’s annual meetings during the war years became more professional, offering continuing education programs at Stanford University in connection with APA’s 1941 annual conference. Thirty-seven members signed up for the 1941 program, gaining credits in advanced kinesiology, therapeutic gymnastics, skeletal muscle and motor activity in health and diseases, and “the..Read More

1943
1943

The Special Women’s Medical Service Corps Program for African-Americans Launches.

The Special Women’s Medical Service Corps Program for African-Americans Launches.

World War II was raging and there was a continuing need to quickly increase the number of trained physical therapists to meet the demands of war. The success of Emma Vogel’s 1941 War Emergency Training Course of WW II led to the launch of several more across the country, among..Read More

1944
1944

First Official Headquarters Founded.

The association moved into its first official headquarters in New York City, where the organization was founded. Mildred Elson became the first executive director of APA.

1944

House of Delegates Created at 1944 Annual Meeting.

House of Delegates Created at 1944 Annual Meeting.

The association’s House of Delegates was created at the 1944 annual meeting. Margery L. Wagner of California was elected first chair of the body.

1947
1947

House of Delegates Votes to Change Name to APTA.

The House of Delegates voted to change the association’s name to the American Physical Therapy Association from the American Physiotherapy Association, which had been its name since 1922.

1948
1948

Physiotherapy Review Is Renamed Physical Therapy Review.

Physiotherapy Review Is Renamed Physical Therapy Review.

In 1948 APA’s widely respected journal went from a bimonthly to a monthly publication, nearly doubling the number of pages from 320 to 584 annually. At the same time the publication’s name was changed to Physical Therapy Review.

1949
1949

The First Edition of “Muscles Testing and Function” Is Published.

The First Edition of “Muscles Testing and Function” Is Published.

Florence P. and Henry O. Kendall were pioneers in research in the field of physical therapy, conducting groundbreaking research at the height of the polio epidemic to establish baselines for normal function in children and young adults. They believed that no modern PT should treat “abnormal” conditions without knowing what..Read More

1950
1950

Korean War Begins.

Korean War Begins.

Congress had just passed a law establishing the Women’s Medical Specialist Corps (WMSC) within the U.S. Army in 1947. Major Emma E. Vogel was chief officer of the corps and promoted to the rank of colonel. This law provided for the first time full military recognition for women physical therapists..Read More

1951
1951

First Planning Session of the World Congress for Physical Therapy.

First Planning Session of the World Congress for Physical Therapy.

The World Confederation for Physical Therapy held its first formal meeting in Copenhagen. Mildred Elson, APTA’s first executive director, was elected to serve as WCPT’s first president. Five years later, in 1956, APTA would cohost the second WCPT World Congress in New York City, where Elson would be one of..Read More

1954
1954

APTA Develops Standardized Competency Exam for State Licensing Boards.

APTA Develops Standardized Competency Exam for State Licensing Boards.

Recognizing the need to protect and advance the profession, APTA leadership began to push more strongly for state practice acts that would regulate the use of relevant occupational titles such as physical therapy and control the right to practice within those regulated professions in the name of protecting the public..Read More

1955
1955

First House-Approved Membership Section Is Founded.

First House-Approved Membership Section Is Founded.

The 1950s brought with them a significant spirt of growth for APTA. Membership was increasing at a significant rate. Similarly, there was immense growth in state chapters. In 1951 all but four states or territories had at least one chapter, and by 1955 all of them had representation. (Early on,..Read More

1955

Salk Vaccine for Polio Is Introduced.

By the 1950s, poliomyelitis was surging, with 58,000 new cases, and 3,000 deaths, reported in the United States in 1952 alone. At the same time physician Jonas Salk was continuing work to develop his vaccine to combat the polio epidemic. In 1953, his preliminary tests, carried out at the D...Read More

1957
1957

The Physical Therapy Fund Is Established.

The Physical Therapy Fund Is Established.

Over the years there had been many articles in Physical Therapy Review about physical therapists providing better scientific data on their work, one of the hallmarks of a true profession. A few members obliged with worthy contributions to the research literature. Among the more impressive works were Margaret Moore’s three-part..Read More

1960
1960

First Two-Year Graduate Program in Physical Therapy Launched.

First Two-Year Graduate Program in Physical Therapy Launched.

The earliest effort to launch a two-year graduate program for the basic education of the physical therapist appeared at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1960. Catherine Worthingham approached the university because it already had established graduate programs in other health professions, including speech..Read More

1964
1964

First Mary McMillan Lecture.

First Mary McMillan Lecture.

The earliest and most prestigious recognition offered by APTA for achievement is the Mary McMillan Lecture Award, which was established in 1962 by the Board of Directors in memory of the association’s beloved first president and physical therapy trailblazer. Mildred O. Elson delivered the first lecture in 1964, and Helen..Read More

1964

1962/1964 Physical Therapy Review Evolves Again.

1962/1964 Physical Therapy Review Evolves Again.

In 1961, Helen J. Hislop took over as editor of Physical Therapy Review. With that came a reexamination of the publication’s name. From time to time someone would suggest that a new name was needed, one that would include the designation “journal” and the name of the association in its..Read More

1965
1965

Medicare Legislation Is Enacted.

Medicare Legislation Is Enacted.

Among the many initiatives launched during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, none had a greater impact on physical therapists than enactment in 1965 of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Medicare (which was appended to the 1935 Social Security Act as Title XVIII) provided federal funding for many of the medical costs of..Read More

1966
1966

The First PTs Go to Vietnam.

Since John F. Kennedy’s inauguration as president in 1961, the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam had grown, culminating in the deployment of American ground troops in the spring of 1965 under President Lyndon Johnson. The first physical therapist on the scene was Army Medical Specialist Corps Colonel Barbara Gray, a..Read More

1967
1967

First Lucy Blair Service Award Established.

First Lucy Blair Service Award Established.

The Lucy Blair Service Award was established in 1969 to honor the long and dedicated service of Lucy Blair, to be given to one or more members each year for contributions of exceptional value to the association. Blair was the sole first recipient in 1969, and service pins were awarded..Read More

1969
1969

First Two Classes of PTAs Graduate and Enter the Workforce.

The first two classes of physical therapist assistants (PTAs) graduated and entered the workforce. The first PTA education programs had been established earlier at Miami-Dade Community College in Florida and St. Mary’s Junior College in Minnesota (now St. Catherine University).

1970
1970

Temporary Affiliate Membership offered to PTAs.

Temporary Affiliate Membership offered to PTAs.

In 1964 APTA’s Board of Directors appointed an ad hoc committee to look into bringing non-physical therapist assistive personnel into some kind of formalized relationship with physical therapists. As a result of the committee’s favorable findings, APTA in 1967 adopted a policy statement that set the foundations for the birth..Read More

1970

Headquarters Relocated to Washington, D.C.

APTA HQ Washington, DC

APTA relocated its headquarters from New York City, where the association was founded, to Washington, D.C., in order to have a stronger advocacy presence on Capitol Hill.

1971
1971

American Registry of Physical Therapists Dissolved.

American Registry of Physical Therapists Dissolved.

In the early days of the profession, before APTA had created its own system of professional certification, registration through the American Registry of Physical Therapists (ARPT) (formerly known as the American Registry of Physical Therapy Technicians) — controlled by the American Medical Association (AMA) — had provided a limited form..Read More

1972
1972

Social Security Amendments of 1972.

Social Security Amendments of 1972.

The year 1972 was a pivotal one for the Social Security Administration. On October 30 that year, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Social Security Amendments of 1972, which provided Independent billing authority for physical therapists added to Medicare Part B program, with a $100 cap on services per..Read More

1973
1973

Physical Therapy Political Action Committee Created.

Physical Therapy Political Action Committee Created.

APTA was no stranger to working to shape policy, and leadership had always well understood the importance of maintaining a strong voice on Capitol Hill. To protect and champion the needs of the profession and its members APTA needed to be heard by lawmakers. That had been one reason for..Read More

1973

NYU Launches First PhD Program in Physical Therapy.

NYU Launches First PhD Program in Physical Therapy.

New York University has rightly been called a trailblazer in the history of physical therapy education. It holds the distinction of having started not only the first four-year bachelor’s degree program for physical therapists in 1927, but also the first postprofessional PhD program for physical therapists in 1973, under the..Read More

1974
1974

First PT Department at a Historically Black College or University Established at Howard University.

Early in physical therapy education, individuals of racial or ethnic minority groups attended predominantly white institutions because no minority-serving institutions had established physical therapy programs. Prior to the 1960s, due in part to institutional discrimination, there were fewer opportunities for minority students than there were for their white counterparts to..Read More

1975
1975

APTA’s House of Delegates Embraces the Concept of Specialization.

APTA’s House of Delegates Embraces the Concept of Specialization.

In her McMillan lecture at APTA’s 1975 annual conference Helen J. Hislop made clear that without its own mechanism for producing certified clinical specialists the profession would be challenged and potentially overshadowed by other health care disciplines. She called on her colleagues to develop programs that would train and certify..Read More

1975

Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) Becomes Law.

On November 29, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed into law the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, later called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This was significant to the physical therapy profession because with it its passage physical therapist practice began moving increasingly into the public school systems...Read More

1975

“The Not So Impossible Dream” McMillan Lecture Delivered by Helen J. Hislop.

Helen J. Hislop

With widening access to health care and momentous advances in medicine and medical technology, a new health care environment was emerging. One of its more notable features was the explosion of information, which was rapidly overwhelming the capacity of most generalists to keep even nominally informed in all areas. Whether..Read More

1976
1976

First Combined Sections Meeting held in Washington, D.C.

The first Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) was held in Washington, DC. It drew more than 1,000 attendees. By 2018, CSM was attracting more than 17,000 attendees per year.

1978
1978

APTA Brings Academic Accreditation “In House.”

APTA Brings Academic Accreditation “In House.”

APTA’s collaborative arrangement for accreditation of physical therapy education programs that had been worked out in 1959 with the American Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education (CME), which originally was the sole accrediting agency, had not proved satisfactory, and the resulting friction was wearing the relationship down. Former APTA president..Read More

1979
1979

The Commission for Certification of Advanced Clinical Competence Appointed by House of Delegates.

The Commission for Certification of Advanced Clinical Competence Appointed by House of Delegates.

In 1978, as a part of APTA’s efforts to establish a mechanism within the physical therapy profession for training and certifying clinical specialists, the association’s Task Force on Clinical Specialization produced a specialist certification program designed to give formal recognition to individuals with advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities in a..Read More

1979

PT Fund Evolves into the Foundation for Physical Therapy.

PT Fund Evolves into the Foundation for Physical Therapy.

Despite an enthusiastic launch in 1957, the PT Fund had been struggling in its first two decades, disbursing less than $80,000 in grant funds toward its goal to foster scientific, literary, and educational advances in physical therapy. Charles Magistro, who had completed a term as APTA president in 1976, recognized..Read More

1980
1980

House of Delegates Sets 1991 as Target for Raising Minimum Entry-Level Education to Postbaccalaureate Degree.

The profession’s efforts to enhance postbaccalaureate education in physical therapy are at least as old as the mid-1940s, when Stanford University pioneered a post-entry-level certificate program in physical therapy. Other schools followed with postbaccalaureate certificate programs, notably at Boston University, the University of Southern California, New York University (NYU), and..Read More

1981
1981

World War I Reconstruction Aides Made Veterans.

The reconstruction aides of World War I played an integral role in the war effort. They often worked 14-hour days caring for the wounded, with their workload growing as the war raged on. By the end of the war the aides had treated thousands of wounded. After World War I..Read More

1981

First Henry O. and Florence P. Kendall Practice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Practice Presented.

First Henry O. and Florence P. Kendall Practice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Practice Presented.

The Henry O. Kendall and Florence P. Kendall Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Practice originally was developed by APTA’s Maryland Chapter to recognize outstanding clinicians for excellence in clinical practice. The award celebrates the nationally recognized husband and wife clinician team who were prominent leaders in physical therapy. Through..Read More

1982
1982

Catherine Worthingham First Recipient of Catherine Worthingham Fellow Designation.

Catherine Worthingham First Recipient of Catherine Worthingham Fellow Designation.

Catherine Worthingham was the first recipient of the fellow program that bears her name. The Catherine Worthingham Fellow designation (FAPTA) is the highest honor among APTA’s membership categories.

1983
1983

The House of Delegates Approves Physical Therapist Assistant Affiliate Special Interest Group.

The assemblies within the House of Delegates came about as a means of allowing physical therapist assistant members a structure through which they could meet their unique needs. In 1983 several affiliate members, including Virginia May, Cheryl Carpenter, and Tricia Garrison, petitioned the House for recognition as a nonvoting component,..Read More

1983

APTA Purchases and Moves to new HQ in Alexandria, Virginia.

APTA purchased and moved to new buildings at 1111 North Fairfax Street in Alexandria, Virginia, with two neighboring buildings being purchased in 1993 and 1996. This marked the first time the association owned the buildings that house its headquarters.

1985
1985

First Exams for Specialist Certification Held.

First Exams for Specialist Certification Held.

As APTA’s special interest sections developed, a natural extension was the continued growth of specialist certification. The complex process of creating the appropriate mechanism for voluntary certification, which started in the mid-1970s, began to bear fruit in 1985, when the first three candidates — Linda Crane, Scot Irwin, and Meryl..Read More

1988
1988

Minority Scholarship Fund established.

Minority Scholarship Fund

In 1986, as one of its efforts to address the scarcity of financial support for minority students enrolled in physical therapy education programs, APTA’s Office of Minority Affairs began working with the Foundation for Physical Therapy to establish the Minority Scholarship Fund. This was in response to a recommendation from..Read More

1989
1989

Marquette Challenge Launched.

The Marquette Challenge was created in 1989 by physical therapy students at Marquette University as an annual student-led fundraiser to support physical therapy research through the Foundation for Physical Therapy. The idea was for physical therapy programs to compete against each other to raise money during each yearly campaign. The..Read More

1989

Affiliate Assembly for PTAs Is Established.

Affiliate Assembly for PTAs Is Established.

The assemblies within APTA’s House of Delegates came about as a means of affording physical therapist assistants — who since 1973 had been granted affiliate membership in the association —- a structure within the organization. In 1983 several affiliate members, including Virginia May, Cheryl Carpenter, and Tricia Garrison, petitioned the..Read More

1990
1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Becomes Law.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Becomes Law.

Equal opportunity in employment was federally mandated in 1973, but it soon became apparent that lack of specific language and implementation guidelines made progress toward nondiscrimination extremely slow. Subsequent efforts to make what were widely agreed to be basic human rights available culminated in 1990 when on July 26 President..Read More

1991
1991

Student Assembly Formed.

Student Assembly Formed.

The Student Assembly was formed to enhance the role of student members and lend a voice to the future leaders of the profession.

1992
1992

First National Physical Therapy Month.

First National Physical Therapy Month.

Spurred by requests for a national celebration of physical therapy by the House of Delegates dating as far back as the mid-1960s, APTA and participating components began to celebrate Physical Therapy Week in the early 1980s. The week was initially observed in conjunction with APTA’s annual conference in June and..Read More

1993
1993

PT Magazine Launched.

PT Magazine Launched.

As the academic rigor of APTA’s scientific journal increased over the years, non-scientific topics that focused more on news of the profession were inevitably displaced. The existing Progress Report had been created in the early 1970s to cover news and ongoing topics of national and component business, and it had..Read More

1993

Creighton University Inaugurates Pioneer “Professional” Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

Creighton University Inaugurates Pioneer “Professional” Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

By the early 1990s, the profession had evolved significantly and there were two levels of degrees with which a physical therapist could graduate: a four-year bachelor’s degree and a professional master’s degree. While the bachelor’s degree was being offered, by this point more than half of the 148 physical therapist..Read More

1995
1995

APTA Launches First Website.

APTA Launches First Website.

Technology was rapidly evolving, and the internet was the new frontier for businesses and nonprofits alike. People were eager to learn more and sought new ways to make the internet and the information super-highway work for them. There was a coordinated effort at all levels of APTA to ensure the..Read More

1995

APTA hosts WCPT’s 12th Congress.

APTA hosts WCPT’s 12th Congress.

In 1995 the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) convened its 12th Congress in Washington, D.C., marking only the second time it had met in the United States since its inception in 1951. At the 1995 gathering, which drew more than 8,000 delegates from the U.S. and overseas, attendees had..Read More

1995

First Edition of the “Guide to Physical Therapist Practice” Published.

First Edition of the “Guide to Physical Therapist Practice” Published.

By the 1990s, APTA strongly believed it was critically important that those outside the profession understood the role of physical therapists in health care and the unique services they provide. The association was committed to informing consumers, federal and state governments, and third-party payers of the benefit of physical therapy..Read More

1996
1996

First John H.P. Maley Lecture Delivered.

First John H.P. Maley Lecture Delivered.

In 1996, Shirley A. Sahrmann became the first recipient of the prestigious John H.P. Maley Lecture Award. The award was established to recognize an APTA physical therapist member who demonstrated clinical expertise and significant contributions to the profession, with the recipient delivering a lecture at APTA’s annual meeting. Sahrmann presented..Read More

1997
1997

Balanced Budget Act Passed.

Balanced Budget Act Passed.

Enactment of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) in 1997 placed an annual cap on rehabilitation services under Medicare. Almost immediately Congress recognized the cap’s potential harmful effect on Medicare beneficiaries and moved to provide an annual exceptions process to prevent the actual implementation of a hard cap on physical therapist..Read More

2000
2000

Vision Statement for the Physical Therapy Profession Established.

Vision 2020

In 2000, APTA was focused on strategic change. The organization felt change was critical to the future of the profession, the association, and the patients and consumers its members treat. As a result, APTA’s House of Delegates adopted “Vision 2020,” a new path forward for the profession. The vision included..Read More

2000

First Clinical Residency and Fellowship Programs Are Approved for Credentialing.

A physical therapy clinical residency is a planned program of postprofessional clinical and didactic education, designed to advance a resident’s expertise in the management of patients and clients in a defined area of clinical practice. In 1997, a five-member Committee on Clinical Residency Program Credentialing was established by APTA’s Board..Read More

2003
2003

APTA Hosts PT Day on Capitol Hill — a Physical Therapy March on Washington.

APTA Hosts PT Day on Capitol Hill — a Physical Therapy March on Washington.

In 2003 APTA and its components were working to push through two important pieces of legislation. One, the Medicare Patient Access to Physical Therapists Act, would provide for direct access to physical therapists under Medicare, and the other, the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act, would repeal the Medicare therapy..Read More

2003

Licensing for Physical Therapists Is Achieved in All 50 States.

After World War I, the American Congress of Physical Medicine created the American Registry to confer the title “registered physical therapist” on physical therapists who passed an exam. By the late 1940s, APTA called for the enactment of state practice acts and state licensure. In 1954, APTA developed, with the..Read More

2005
2005

PTA Caucus Is Established.

PTA Caucus

The National Assembly (NA) for PTAs was a great idea for its time. All PTA members automatically were members of the NA, which was a forum for PTAs to discuss issues related to motions coming before the House of Delegates and decide which to support or oppose. But, as the..Read More

2005

First PTAs Graduate from the Advanced Proficiency for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

First PTAs Graduate from the Advanced Proficiency for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

The Advanced Proficiency for the Physical Therapist Assistant program was launched in 2004 to recognize PTAs who achieved advanced proficiency in the areas of cardiovascular and pulmonary, education, oncology, acute care, wound management, geriatric, integumentary, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and pediatric physical therapy. The first class of 79 PTAs received their recognition..Read More

2006
2006

Open Door Portal to Physical Therapy Research Databases Is Launched.

Open Door Portal to Physical Therapy Research Databases Is Launched.

To support APTA’s Vision 2020, APTA in 2006 launched Open Door, a members-only online portal to peer-reviewed literature. Through subscriptions secured by APTA, Open Door provided members free online access to two databases that together offered access to the full text of more than 1,000 scientific journals to help PTs..Read More

2008
2008

Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service Is Launched.

On August 1, 2008, APTA introduced the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), a Web-based tool developed to simplify the application process for prospective PT students and facilitate the admissions process for professional PT education programs by allowing applicants to use a single application and one set of materials to..Read More

2009
2009

APTA Hosts International Summit on Direct Access and Advanced Scope of Practice in Physical Therapy.

Achieving direct access had long been a major initiative for APTA. In October 2009, the association hosted and led the International Summit on Direct Access and Advanced Scope of Practice in Physical Therapy, a conference that was organized to investigate advanced models of physical therapist practice both in the United..Read More

2009

PT—Magazine of Physical Therapy Is Renamed PT in Motion.

PT—Magazine of Physical Therapy Is Renamed PT in Motion.

After 16 years as PT—Magazine of Physical Therapy, APTA’s monthly magazine was ready for change. The publication had undergone a restructuring in 2000 for a more modern look to go with the new millennium and to coordinate with a new weekly web-based newsletter, PT Bulletin Online, by publishing a digest..Read More

2009

APTA Hosts PASS — the Physical Therapy and Society Summit.

APTA Hosts PASS — the Physical Therapy and Society Summit.

A first-of-its-kind event for APTA and the physical therapy profession, PASS — held in a think tank-type atmosphere at a prominent retreat center outside Washington, D.C. — brought together physical therapists with non-physical therapists representing government, health policy, academia, engineering, bioscience, and information technology. Its specific aim, per the 2006..Read More

2013
2013

APTA Hosts Innovation Summit: Collaborative Care Models.

APTA Hosts Innovation Summit: Collaborative Care Models.

In March 2013, following on the heels of implementation of the Affordable Care Act, APTA hosted the Innovation Summit: Collaborative Care Models, a groundbreaking event that brought together physical therapists, physicians, large health systems, and policy makers to discuss the current and future role of physical therapy in integrated models..Read More

2013

The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy Is Designated as a Component by APTA’s House of Delegates.

The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy Is Designated as a Component by APTA’s House of Delegates.

The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) was formed to provide a unified voice for academic physical therapy — supporting excellence in research and scholarship, professional and community service, and academic and professional leadership. Previously, academic institutions were represented through a special interest group of academic administrators within APTA’s..Read More

2013

New Vision Statement Focused More on Society Established by House.

New Vision Statement Focused More on Society Established by House.

By early in the second decade of the 21st century, the feeling within APTA was that the goals of Vision 2020 — the association’s existing vision statement that had been adopted 13 years earlier—had largely been met or were moving crisply in that direction. The statement primarily focused inward, aspiring..Read More

2015
2015

All 50 States Achieve Some Form of Direct Access.

All 50 States Achieve Some Form of Direct Access.

The multi-decade struggle to achieve direct access in every state and locality was all about celebrating successes, conveying momentum, and encouraging chapters’ efforts to fight access restrictions. Given fierce opposition from physician groups, chiropractors, and others, every win — however large or small — was considered important. In some cases,..Read More

2015

PTA Full Vote at the Component Level Established by the House of Delegates.

In 2005 the PTA Caucus succeeded the PTA’s National Assembly and its representative body. The caucus gave PTAs better organization and representation from all chapters. It gave the ability to be more engaged and more actively involved within the profession. It also gave them a presence in the House of..Read More

2015

Foundation for Physical Therapy Grant Creates the Center on Health Services Training and Research.

Foundation for Physical Therapy Grant Creates the Center on Health Services Training and Research.

A long-anticipated dream to create a center specifically targeted to foster stronger physical therapist leadership in health policy and health services research was born in 2015. Named the Center on Health Services Training and Research (CoHSTAR), the project was brought into being by the Foundation for Physical Therapy with an..Read More

2016
2016

The Clinical Doctorate (or “DPT”) Becomes the Only Degree Conferred by CAPTE-Accredited Educational Institutions.

The Clinical Doctorate (or “DPT”) Becomes the Only Degree Conferred by CAPTE-Accredited Educational Institutions.

Physical therapy education has changed dramatically over the decades. When the profession began, physical therapists (PTs) earned a bachelor’s degree in another closely related field and then obtained a certificate in physical therapy. As time went on, the profession created and adopted the entry-level physical therapy bachelor’s degree. Later, education..Read More

2016

Three New Councils Created (FiRST, Health Systems, and Prevention and Wellness).

To support APTA’s mission to advance and enhance the profession, APTA launched three new councils to focus on various areas of practice. The Frontiers in Rehabilitation, Science, and Technology (FiRST) Council was established in February 2016 as a community for interested stakeholders. FiRST grew out of identification of high-priority areas..Read More

2016

APTA Launches “ChoosePT” National Opioid Awareness Campaign.

APTA Launches “ChoosePT” National Opioid Awareness Campaign.

At the start of the emerging national opioid epidemic, APTA took a leadership role and unveiled a broad public relations effort to educate consumers about the opioid epidemic and urge them to choose physical therapy (#ChoosePT) to manage pain without the risks of opioids. The campaign grew to include award-winning..Read More

2016

PTA Recognition of Advanced Proficiency for Physical Therapist Assistant transitions to PTA Advanced Proficiency Pathways (APP).

PTA APP

To increase PTAs’ knowledge and skills in a select area of physical therapy, in 2004 APTA established a program called Recognition of Advanced Proficiency for the Physical Therapist Assistant. In 2014 APTA launched a companion program, PTA Advanced Proficiency Pathways (PTA APP). By 2016 it was clear that PTA APP..Read More

2017
2017

Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Launches with 10 Participating States.

Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Launches with 10 Participating States.

A dream to make it possible for PTs and PTAs to practice in multiple states through a single license began to become reality when Washington became the 10th state to sign on to the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact. The system needed to reach 10 participating states in order to become..Read More

2017

Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry Launched.

Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry Launched.

The transition to value-based care requires accountability for patient outcomes, evaluating the effectiveness of interventions, and making technical and organizational changes — all within an evolving and sometimes complicated payment system. The ability to demonstrate and quantify the value of physical therapist interventions is powerful leverage, when it comes to..Read More

2017

Association Membership Surpasses 100,000 Mark.

Association Membership Surpasses 100,000 Mark.

Association membership surpassed the 100,000 mark after a collaborative push by APTA, its components, and members. To put that accomplishment into perspective, APTA surpassed 25,000 members in 1975 and 50,000 members in 1990.

2018
2018

Hard Cap on Physical Therapist Services Under Medicare Is Eliminated.

Enactment of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) in 1997 placed an annual cap on rehabilitation services under Medicare. Almost immediately Congress recognized the cap’s potential harmful effect on Medicare beneficiaries and moved to provide an annual exceptions process to prevent the actual implementation of a hard cap on physical therapist..Read More

2018

APTA Board of Directors Adopts a New Mission Statement.

APTA Board of Directors Adopts a New Mission Statement.

“Building a community that advances the profession of physical therapy to improve the health of society” became the official mission statement for APTA in 2018. Developed by the APTA Board of Directors after the 2017 House of Delegates entrusted the Board to update and maintain the association’s mission, the statement..Read More

2019
2019

Number of Board-Certified Clinical Specialists Exceeds 27,000.

In 1978, as a part of APTA’s efforts to establish a mechanism within the physical therapy profession for training and certifying clinical specialists, the association’s Task Force on Clinical Specialization produced a specialist certification program designed to give formal recognition to individuals with advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities in a..Read More

2019

APTA Breaks Ground on the APTA Centennial Center, Its New Headquarters.

APTA Breaks Ground on the APTA Centennial Center, Its New Headquarters.

On January 22, 2019, current and former APTA leaders gathered in Alexandria, Virginia, to celebrate the groundbreaking of APTA Centennial Center, a 7-story, 115,000-square-foot building that would become the association’s headquarters beginning in 2021. The decision to build a new headquarters was carefully considered. An exploratory work group of APTA..Read More

2020
2020

APTA Launches New Brand and Logo.

APTA Launches New Brand and Logo.

At the national level, APTA had long maintained a “house of brands” approach, with dozens of individually branded products, services, and events. This approach extended to APTA’s chapters and sections, which used their own distinct names and, often, abbreviations. The result was branding gumbo and alphabet soup, with no meaningful..Read More

2021
2021

APTA Opens new Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

APTA Opens new Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

To begin the association’s 100th year, APTA will open a new headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The building will support APTA’s workforce of the future and be more welcoming to our members and the public. APTA Centennial Center is a tribute to APTA’s mission, vision, and values.

2021

APTA Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary.

APTA Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary.

January 15, 2021, marks 100 years to the day since the first meeting of APTA’s founders at Keens Chophouse (now known as Keens Steakhouse) in New York City. That initial meeting of these courageous and dedicated founding women led to the start of what became one of America’s largest associations,..Read More