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 of positive results for patients with polio. In 1926 he invested a significant amount of his personal money to purchase the property and the following year started the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Plastridge was invited to serve as supervisor of physical therapists in 1929. She remained at the facility for more than 20 years.
In 1927 the American Orthopaedic Association recommended that Warm Springs be designated a permanent hydrotherapeutic center. It became a place where patients with polio could receive the much needed care of a physical therapist. Roosevelt would continue to visit Warm Springs throughout his tenure as the 32nd U.S. president. There he would work with physical therapists and physicians to develop exercises to improve his condition. The facility is known today as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.