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, chapters were considered “local” and some states established multiple ones for different regions. Later, all states or territories would have only one chapter each.) This decade also saw the evolution of special interest sections within APTA when the Section on Self-Employed (later known as the Private Practice Section) was founded in 1955, becoming the first membership section approved by the House of Delegates. “Special interest groups,” such as the Schools Section (now the Academy of Physical Therapy Education), existed but had been established before the House of Delegates began functioning as the governing body to approve them.
Robert Dicus served as the first chairperson of the Section on Self-Employed. An explosion of new advances in physical therapy in the 1960s would drive the growing importance of special interest sections within membership, and the number of sections would swell to a dozen by the mid-1970s.