Physiotherapy history: moving pictures and stories

Until recently, physiotherapy has been unique amongst the health professions for its disinclination to cultivate its own history 

Dr Glenn Ruscoe
Dr Glenn Ruscoe is chair of the International Physiotherapy History Association

Staying up-to-date with the latest research and advancements is crucial for every physiotherapist. However, it’s also important to know the profession’s historical roots, so as to understand how the past has shaped, and continues to shape, who we are today.

Established in 2018, the International Physiotherapy History Association (IPHA) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of physiotherapy. With members all over the world, the association encourages and promotes research, study, scholarship and publication of historical perspectives as a resource in present-day practice, teaching and education, regulation, management and leadership, and professionalisation.

Our primary repository and communication vehicle is our website where we provide magazine-style articles by peers from around the world. We allow comments on the stories and find many times that they can be as intriguing as the original article. For particular subject interest the site is searchable plus everything can be Google translated into 32 different languages.

We invite contributions from anyone, so if you have a story related to the history of physiotherapy and/or some images please send them through to us at

The website also lists a range of historical resources and displays our digital exhibitions, such as History’s Greatest Physios and 100 Objects of Physiotherapy.  

Our two current exhibition projects are the self-explanatory ‘20 Seminal Physiotherapy Texts of the 20th Century’ and ‘Physiotherapy: The Word’, where we explore the politics behind the profession’s slow and still not yet complete adoption of a universal title.

Membership of the IPHA is free and is achieved by signing up to our newsletter here.  As a member you’ll be the first to receive advice on the posting of any new information about our activities, invitations to participate and the opportunity to join the executive committee. Follow us on Twitter @history_physio and Facebook.  

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